You do not have to engage in research to go to medical school or other health profession schools. However, you may find beneficial to get some exposure to any type of research--bench, social science, qualitative, etc. While it certainly can help your application to have some research in your background, it’s not mandatory.
According to a 2019 survey of incoming medical students conducted by the AAMC, nearly 60% of respondents participated in a laboratory research experience. Among survey respondents who took one or more year off between college and medical school, 46% said they spent a portion of that time volunteering on some form of research. In 2019, those who matriculated at an allopathic medical school had on average ~1,200 research lab hours.
Do not let the fact that you do not have prior experience deter you from pursuing research. Professors after all are looking for someone who is genuinely interested in their research and the science behind it, is reliable and able to learn quickly, and is enthusiastic about learning. Be sure to convey those characteristics in your resume, cover letter, e-mail, and interview when approaching these professors. If you need assistance with any of these endeavors, peruse the relevant resources on this website and, for further assistance, make an appointment in the UM University Career Center.
Here are some tips for you:
- Start by looking for research positions in laboratories or with professors in the department of your major. The information you have learned within the courses in your concentration will lead to a better understanding of the work in the laboratory. In addition, if you decide that you would like to write an honors thesis to fulfill the Honors Program requirements, you will already be established in an appropriate laboratory.
- Contact a professor from a class. Read up on the professor’s research on their webpage and then go see them during their office hours. Express your interest in working with them if a position is available, and if no position is, ask for a reference to another professor in the same department or elsewhere, who may be hiring.
- Seek professors who are hiring undergraduate research students. Look on the websites of academic departments. Also, be sure to check the UM student employment website.
- Apply to a program that facilitates research experiences for undergraduate students.
- If you are looking for positions in other areas, try looking at the hiring/careers page of the research institutions or hospitals in your location of choice. Common titles are "research assistant" or "clinical study coordinator". You can also reach out directly to investigators of interest or their department. Research labs are always hiring for various studies and if your skills and experiences are relevant, they can direct you to the right person or keep you in mind for future opportunities.