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Original article
peer-reviewed

Research in Medical School: A Survey Evaluating Why Medical Students Take Research Years



Abstract

Introduction: In recent years, an increasing number of medical students have taken time off during medical school in order to conduct research. Schools and students have invested millions of dollars and thousands of person-years on research projects, but little is known as to why students choose to take this time off. We aim to characterize why students take research years during medical school.

Methods: The authors distributed an online survey about research in medical school to students at five medical schools that have highly regarded research programs.

Results: 328 students responded to the survey. The most common reasons students take years off for research are: “increase competitiveness for residency application” (32%), “time to pursue other opportunities” (24%), and “academic interest” (23%). Students who would still take a research year even if they were already assured a position in a residency program of their choice were at 65%, while 35% would not take a research year. Responses varied based on whether students intended to go into a competitive specialty.

Discussion: Medical students take research years for multiple reasons, although they frequently are not motivated by an interest in the research itself. Many student projects consume a substantial amount of time and money despite having little educational value. Medical schools, residency programs, and policymakers should rethink incentives to increase value and help students better pursue their academic interests.



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Original article
peer-reviewed

Research in Medical School: A Survey Evaluating Why Medical Students Take Research Years


Author Information

Akhilesh S. Pathipati Corresponding Author

School of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine

Nounou N. Taleghani

Department of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine


Ethics Statement and Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Human subjects: Consent was obtained by all participants in this study. Stanford University Institutional Review Board issued approval N/A. The Stanford University Institutional Review Board reviewed this study and waived the need for further review. Animal subjects: All authors have confirmed that this study did not involve animal subjects or tissue. Conflicts of interest: In compliance with the ICMJE uniform disclosure form, all authors declare the following: Payment/services info: All authors have declared that no financial support was received from any organization for the submitted work. Financial relationships: All authors have declared that they have no financial relationships at present or within the previous three years with any organizations that might have an interest in the submitted work. Other relationships: All authors have declared that there are no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.


Original article
peer-reviewed

Research in Medical School: A Survey Evaluating Why Medical Students Take Research Years


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Original article
peer-reviewed

Research in Medical School: A Survey Evaluating Why Medical Students Take Research Years

Akhilesh S. Pathipati">Akhilesh S. Pathipati , Nounou N. Taleghani">Nounou N. Taleghani

  • Author Information
    Akhilesh S. Pathipati Corresponding Author

    School of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine

    Nounou N. Taleghani

    Department of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine


    Ethics Statement and Conflict of Interest Disclosures

    Human subjects: Consent was obtained by all participants in this study. Stanford University Institutional Review Board issued approval N/A. The Stanford University Institutional Review Board reviewed this study and waived the need for further review. Animal subjects: All authors have confirmed that this study did not involve animal subjects or tissue. Conflicts of interest: In compliance with the ICMJE uniform disclosure form, all authors declare the following: Payment/services info: All authors have declared that no financial support was received from any organization for the submitted work. Financial relationships: All authors have declared that they have no financial relationships at present or within the previous three years with any organizations that might have an interest in the submitted work. Other relationships: All authors have declared that there are no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

    Acknowledgements


    Article Information

    Published: August 18, 2016

    DOI

    10.7759/cureus.741

    Cite this article as:

    Pathipati A S, Taleghani N N (August 18, 2016) Research in Medical School: A Survey Evaluating Why Medical Students Take Research Years. Cureus 8(8): e741. doi:10.7759/cureus.741

    Publication history

    Received by Cureus: July 23, 2016
    Peer review began: July 26, 2016
    Peer review concluded: August 06, 2016
    Published: August 18, 2016

    Copyright

    © Copyright 2016
    Pathipati et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CC-BY 3.0., which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

    License

    This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract

Introduction: In recent years, an increasing number of medical students have taken time off during medical school in order to conduct research. Schools and students have invested millions of dollars and thousands of person-years on research projects, but little is known as to why students choose to take this time off. We aim to characterize why students take research years during medical school.

Methods: The authors distributed an online survey about research in medical school to students at five medical schools that have highly regarded research programs.

Results: 328 students responded to the survey. The most common reasons students take years off for research are: “increase competitiveness for residency application” (32%), “time to pursue other opportunities” (24%), and “academic interest” (23%). Students who would still take a research year even if they were already assured a position in a residency program of their choice were at 65%, while 35% would not take a research year. Responses varied based on whether students intended to go into a competitive specialty.

Discussion: Medical students take research years for multiple reasons, although they frequently are not motivated by an interest in the research itself. Many student projects consume a substantial amount of time and money despite having little educational value. Medical schools, residency programs, and policymakers should rethink incentives to increase value and help students better pursue their academic interests.



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Akhilesh S. Pathipati, Medical Student

School of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine

For correspondence:
apathip@stanford.edu

Nounou N. Taleghani, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor

Department of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine

Akhilesh S. Pathipati, Medical Student

School of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine

For correspondence:
apathip@stanford.edu

Nounou N. Taleghani, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor

Department of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine