How My Research is Helping Me Get into Medical School

By Jasney Combs

The path to becoming a doctor is extremely difficult. To be a competitive applicant for medical school, it is important to get involved in extracurriculars such as clinical experience and research. But what if that research has nothing to do with medicine or the medical field?

Figure 1: Perspective on Undergraduate Research from Official AAMC Website.

The pre-requisites required to apply to medical school consist of rigorous chemistry, biology, and math classes. The reason for such difficult classes is to test applicants’ critical thinking skills, scientific reasoning, and determination. These traits are also developed by doing extracurriculars such as clinical experience and research (Figure 1). I feel as though those same traits have been developed throughout my summer research.

This summer, I have been conducting chemistry/bio-chemistry research. The research is green chemistry based and uses biological enzymes rather than harsh chemicals to run reactions. My project was to develop a new method of analyzing the activity of enzymes with a probe measuring absorbances (Figure 2). This project consisted of a lot of trial and error, but I discovered that no results were still results. Research typically involves advanced knowledge of specific topics so at first it can seem overwhelming. You gain in-depth knowledge that you may have never gained otherwise. This summer, I gained a lot of mental toughness trying to balance difficult summer classes while doing an independent research project. I learned the importance of precision and accuracy. I learned to take accountability for my mistakes. I moved on from my mistakes and celebrated my successes. I learned to communicate with others and learned it is okay to ask for help. I was able to start my research career the summer after my freshman year and now this is my third research opportunity.

Starting your research career early will not only strengthen your application, but it also allows you to find out what you are truly interested in! Even if you have not had the opportunity to do research yet and are discouraged, continue to apply to different places because someone will see your potential and give you that opportunity! Most importantly, I learned that research, no matter what kind, gives you invaluable experience and knowledge.