Research electives are programs that IMGs can enter into, but you should remember that these are very rarely hands on, and not considered to be a clinical experience. Research electives are a great way for an IMG to undertake academic, publishing, and/or authorship credit. These offer a student to gain a LOR, and in combination with a USCE can be extremely beneficial to a medical student’s CV/resume.
Find a research position
Research is the most important gateway for IMGs to cross the US residency program. Even though, an IMG with low scores or with no US LOR, can yet get a chance to research position. While many applications may get double or triple 99s in their USMLE exam, research distinguishes the rest. Any type of research experience you’re having can be either from your home country or from USA; still it will help. If you have research publications on an international or national journal, you will get a chance to list yourself on the ERAS application. If your research is not published you can still write about your research experience. The more publication you have, the more you will get the chance. If you are the first or second author it weights much, it will make sure that you get opportunities to pursue more research for a fellowship. Don’t you think leaving a portion of your application looks bad? If yes, then think about an applicant without having any experience on research who will leave the section on the ERAS application for research and publications blank. BE AWARE; don’t just make something if you don’t have any experience on research. Be honest; or it will hurt you more than help. If you just make up something, you will get in trouble because during the ERAS interview, you will be asked about your research.
Where do I find research position?
Finding a research position is not an easy task within US. You have to try hard enough to find a research position, so be patient. If you know someone currently working on a research project, offer him/her voluntary service and help. If they are pleased with your dedication and hard work, they may offer you a position in no time. But don’t be hopeless if you don’t have any connections, look up for the institutions known for conducting research projects, especially the subjects you are interested in. We will provide some organizations list on the later part of this article. Dig deep into the institutions’ websites and find out email addresses of the professors and researchers. Their title might be like as – clinical researcher, or clinical research coordinator, post-graduate research fellow, research associate, etc. After you have obtained the email addresses, start emailing them. Introduce yourself, write about yourself, your educational background, subject areas of research you are interested in (carefully look onto the subjects they are currently doing research work). Don’t forget to also write about your goal, how you will manage your living cost like accommodation, food if the position is voluntary. You might have to send hundreds of email before getting any reply. You can have a sample letter or email; you can write from the following link- http://research-opportunities.blogspot.com/p/sample-letter-for-research.html. Once you get a reply, you are set. They may want to take an interview of yours; so decide whether or not it’s worth traveling. Only if the position is as like you are looking for and also you have the time and you can manage the expenses, take it, because another opportunity might not arise. But if you are not interested and think you can’t manage everything, then let them know.
Remember there are two types of research work-
- Lab research
- Clinical research
We will prefer clinical research. In lab research you have to be sitting on the lab and work all day long; thus you will not get chance to meet people who can help you to get residency. Although sometime you can convince your supervisor to give you some time to get into some interviews but in clinical research, you will get chance to interact with clinical life and doctors working on residency program more often.
As we said previously, now we are going to provide a list of organization and website from where you may get some opportunity for research work. You can also get some stipend or get a position of paid research. This is an updated list of places and websites to get some stipend or get a position of paid research. USMLE scores or ECFMG certificates may not be required and many of these institutions may also not be sponsoring your visa.
- Harvard faculty of medicine: The Harvard faculty of medicine conducts many research projects around Boston. There are total six academic basic science departments, which are the heart of Harvard Medical School. Harvard medical School appoints many faculties to their 17 affiliated institutions. Total 50 departments of Harvard conduct huge amount of basic and clinical research.
- University of Pittsburgh/ Department of Medicine: Almost all division of the department of Medicine conduct research work and research opportunities are available on- Cardiology, Clinical Pharmacology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, General Internal Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Hematology/Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, Renal-Electrolyte, Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology.
Some websites to search for opportunities: