How future physicians can make their medical research stand out

How future physicians can make their medical research stand out


Research is a part of advancing the science of medicine and patient care. As a medical student or resident, your forays into a research project can have many outlets when those projects are completed. 

Patricia A. Carney, PhD, MS, is a professor of family medicine at Oregon Health & Science University and regularly works with residents and medical students on scholarly research. She offered this advice to those looking to find an outlet for their completed research projects.

Getting your research published tends to draw the most eyes to your work. It also means you went through the most rigorous vetting process—submitting your work to a peer-reviewed journal and adding something new to the medical literature.

“The most enduring outcome of a research project is to get it published,” Carney said. “That means you have to make sure the study you are doing addresses a gap in current literature. You can’t just repeat what’s already been covered. It’s quite nuanced. Your mentor should be helping you with that.”

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A poster presentation is another option for medical students and residents looking to showcase their research. It is going to require a student to be more concise and channel a bit of creativity in finding ways to display research results.

Poster presentations also can be a common format for research competitions. One upcoming competition is the 2021 AMA Research Challenge—the largest national, multispecialty research event for medical students, residents and fellows, and international medical graduates.

The deadline for abstract submissions is July 21. Held virtually, the event gives medical students, physicians and anyone else interested an opportunity to view research posters and presentations and network with others interested in similar research.

In looking at the advantages to entering a research competition, Carney said it can help your resume.

“Typically, when you submit your poster for an award you have to do some sort of oral presentation component,” she said. “So, it’s important to get those presentation skills down. The judges will rate what you have done. I’ve seen a broad array of students’ ability. If you’re putting your research up for a competition, the experience of characterizing what you did and what you found, the insights you can offer about your findings is really important.”

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The volume of digital platforms creates more options than ever for students and resident to raise awareness for their research work.

“I know of one family medicine residency program that has developed a podcast where they regularly talk about the research they are conducting,” Carney said. “That is really novel—to have a podcast about what your residents are working on.”

Dr. Carney also said social media can be a venue to disseminate your research, though she cautioned against giving too much away on your social postings because it could endanger your chances at publication.  


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