Virtual research opportunities for premedical students are becoming increasingly popular, and there is a good reason for that. They allow premedical students to develop essential skills and strengthen their medical school applications while being more flexible than some of the traditional research opportunities that students have to compete for during their undergraduate studies. In this blog, we'll tell you everything you need to know about virtual research opportunities, including what they actually entail, their benefits and drawbacks, where you can find them, and how to find quality research activities. So, whether you are applying for an MD or DO or a joint program such as an MD-PhD program, you will find some valuable information in the blog below. 


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Why is research experience important for pre-med students?

Even though research experience isn't a strict requirement for admission to medical school, it can still positively impact your medical school application. Competitive medical school applicants typically have at least one research activity listed in their AMCAS Work and Activities section or whichever other application form they are completing. This is because research activities have several benefits that ultimately make you a more attractive candidate for medical school. 

 Let's take a look at some of the benefits of participating in premed research opportunities

What are virtual research opportunities and how do they work?

We have established that having research experience can be great for your medical school application, so the next question is, what kind of research should you be pursuing? Pre-medical students tend to gravitate towards “wet lab” (life sciences) laboratory research because they believe that it is what will look best on their resume, but that is not necessarily true. Experience with asking questions, making hypotheses, and following through with a research project in other fields can also teach you skills that are just as valuable and strengthen your medical school application.

Virtual research opportunities for pre-medical students give you the opportunity to do just that. Students learn to make inquiries, hypothesize, and research different topics based on their own academic interest areas instead of resorting to biological lab research because it seems to be the default for pre-medical students. It is important to remember that medical schools usually find value in a wide range of research experiences, covering basic and social sciences, clinical, and humanities research. 

Check out this infographic about the benefits of virtual research experience:



As the name suggests, virtual research opportunities for pre-medical students refer to research projects that premed students can participate in online. These research opportunities are usually guided by an expert or a team of experts who help students through every step of the process - from choosing their research topic, learning scientific research methodology, and presenting and publishing their findings.

Many people are surprised to learn that virtual research experiences offer many of the same benefits as in-person lab research opportunities and depending on the specific project you or the team that you are working with, they can even be more advantageous.

What are the pros and cons of virtual research?

As with everything, there are benefits and drawbacks to virtual research programs. Let’s take a look at some of those pros and cons: 

How to find virtual research opportunities for pre-medical students

Finding research opportunities for pre-medical students, in general, can be pretty challenging. Often, undergraduate students are not sure where to start. And those who do are often busy competing for the few lab opportunities available in their community. While virtual research opportunities are getting increasingly popular, they still provide students with more options because these programs do not have the same limits. For example, a laboratory can only accommodate a specific number of people on a given day, meaning that only a limited number of research projects can be authorized for a particular lab at any given time. This is not the case with a virtual research program. 

Looking for more details on how to get the best research experience as a premed? This video is for you:

The main issue that students face is that they do not know where to find research opportunities. So here are three ways to look for virtual research opportunities:

1. Online

Virtual research programs take place online, so it is only fitting that you should start there when looking for such an opportunity. It can be as simple as typing 'virtual research opportunities for premedical students' in your web browser's search bar and going from there. Several universities, colleges, individuals, and academic companies offer virtual research opportunities, and they will often have this information available for review on their websites. 

We recommend that you start with a google search and pay special attention to companies that help premed and medical school students. For example, the AAMC has a lit of summer undergraduate research programs on their website and some of them are virtual. A few qualified academic consulting firms also offer virtual research programs, and we here at BeMo are one of them.

We currently offer one of the best virtual research opportunities for premedical students out there. Students who are part of a research project at BeMo get to work autonomously and build those critical thinking skills that we were talking about earlier, but they are also guided by our team of research experts every step of the way. Our experts help our students choose from the many research topics that we have by helping them figure out which topic would be best for their candidacy while allowing them to follow their own academic interests.

BeMo's virtual research opportunities for premedical students last four months or a year. They include guided workshops that teach students about methodology, literature search, data analysis, research manuscript creation, scientific communication, and research presentation. This means that students not only get the chance to grow their skills and improve their medical student CV and application, but they also get to learn other skills that will be valuable to them in medical school and beyond. 

2. Colleges and universities

Not all universities offer virtual research programs, but several of them do. For example, if you go to one of the best undergraduate business schools, the chances are that there will be at least one research opportunity available for students. For example, the University of Illinois in Chicago has a Summer Research Opportunities Program that aims to introduce sophomores and juniors to academic research experiences. We recommend that you speak with your TAs and professors to inquire directly about projects they might be working on, or you can propose specific research ideas if you have any. 

Additionally, you should check your school's bulletin boards - especially those of your faculty and the medical school, if your college or university has one. Professors, teacher assistants, and Ph.D. candidates who need help with research projects usually put up this information on their pages. Often, when schools are just launching virtual research programs or trying to promote the ones they already have, they will usually post about it on the physical bulletin boards around campus, but they will likely also advertise it to students online. 

Furthermore, we highly recommend that you do not limit yourself to the school you are currently attending. You can choose to take on a research project from a different university during the summer, during a gap year before medical school or even during the school year if it is a possibility for you. Several universities have virtual research programs that are open to students who are not enrolled in their undergraduate programs. For example, Baylor College of Medicine has Summer Undergraduate Research Training (SMART) Program that is designed to give foundational research experience to undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing medical research. 

3. Leverage your network

Even though these research programs happen online, they are run by real people. Often, by experts in their respective fields who are connected to other professionals in that field. So, talk to the people around you and tell them precisely what you are looking for. Speak with your friends and family, instructors and professors, colleagues and supervisors, and anyone else in your circle who may have connections to the medical field. One or several of them might know of an opportunity that could interest you.

Need help writing a research assistant cover letter? This video will walk you through:

How to know which opportunities are worthwhile

Not all virtual research opportunities are equal. Some are better suited for you than others, and some will offer more value than others. You should be able to discern which ones are worth investing your time and energy in. So here are three things that we recommend you consider when looking for virtual research opportunities as a premedical student. 

Consider the source of the virtual research program: When you find a virtual research opportunity for premedical students, you should take the time to consider the individual or company that is offering this opportunity. You do not want to learn how to conduct research from someone who has no experience with research or is not qualified to teach others. Ideally, you want to work with research or medical experts who will be able to supervise and teach you. 

For example, here at BeMo, we do not make our students work with random PhDs, MDs, or med students who have no experience mentoring students. Our team is made up of actual certified research experts who work with different students from various backgrounds every day. In addition to having the necessary credentials, they embody our student-focused philosophy and go through rigorous training to ensure that they can provide the best services for our students. 

Consider the value offered by the research opportunity:  Quality is better than quantity. That applies to a lot of things, including your medical school application components and the experiences that you will include on that application. The best way to make your medical school application stand out is to ensure that you are looking for research opportunities that have several learning opportunities and that explore topics that are both impactful and relevant. 

You should avoid research projects or programs that offer little to no guidance, or only a person to supervise you as you complete your work. Instead, look for a premed research program that includes workshops, webinars or exercises that will teach you more about research methodology, literature search, scientific communication, and research presentation. 

Consider the time commitment: As a premedical student, you most likely do not have much free time on your hands. Between studying for the MCAT, keeping up with your course load so that you can meet medical school GPA requirements, and any other commitments that you may have, finding the time to get research experience can be very tricky. We recommend looking for virtual research opportunities that you can enroll in at anytime that is convenient for you. Ideally, they should offer research projects that can be completed over a relatively short period of time, such as 6 or 4 months. You should only commit to a longer research project if you are absolutely sure that it will not affect your studies, and even then, we recommend that it not be longer than one year. 

FAQs

1. What does virtual research mean?

Simply put, virtual research programs are guided research programs that happen online. They are typically offered by universities and academic consulting companies. 

2. Do I need research experience to get into medical school?

Research experience is not a formal requirement for most medical schools, but it is an experience that most medical school applicants have on their resume nowadays. This means that if you want to be a competitive applicant, having some research experience is necessary. 

3. What kind of research should premed students get?

Medical school committees value different kinds of research. While research projects in the medical field show reiterate your passion and commitment to the field, you can show those things through research in social sciences and other fields of study as well. Conducting research on relevant, high impact topics in any field that you are interested in will have a more positive impact on your application than a low impact research project in the medical industry. 

4. Can premed students conduct social science or liberal arts research?

Absolutely! Research in different fields of study will still give you valuable experience and teach you highly transferable skills. 

5. Where can I find virtual research opportunities as a premed student?

You can find them online, on academic consulting websites like this one, and by speaking with your teachers and school advisors. 

6. Does BeMo offer virtual research opportunities for pre-medical students?

Yes, we do. We offer students the opportunity to work with our research experts on high impact research projects that can help your medical school application stand out. Book your free consultation today if you want to learn more about these opportunities. 

7. Does premed research experience need to include lab work?

It does not. This is a common false assumption among premed students. Research experience can still be valuable even if it is not conducted in a lab or clinical environment.  

8. Will having virtual research experience increase my chances of getting into medical school?

Research experience gives you an opportunity to enhance your medical school resume and make yourself a more competitive candidate. That can definitely improve your chances of getting into the medical school of your choice

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting


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