Five College of Medicine students walking the campus.

Medical Student Research Portal (MSRP)

In addition to patient care, both research and education are well established core missions of MUSC. While not every medical student will want to pursue a career in research, it is critical that students learn the basics of research and have access to opportunities that supply them with more detailed exposure. Understanding the scientific method will allow students to become lifelong learners by continually and critically interpreting and reading literature throughout their careers. For some, after fully experiencing the world of research, it becomes clear that choosing to make basic science or clinical research a large part of their career is imperative to their growth as a physician. In addition, many competitive residency programs place value on research when reviewing a student’s application. It is because of this that MUSC makes it a priority that all students have ease of access to research programs and internships.

Check out the MUSC Research Fact Sheet (PDF)

In the past, it was often difficult for students to find research opportunities (both on campus and off) and there was not a functioning and reliable list of mentors. It has become apparent that there is a real and tangible need for such a database for students. And thus, The Medical Student Research Portal (MSRP) is intended to create and promote research opportunities for medical students and fill the void previously felt by those who searched for reliable projects. The objective of the MSRP is to become a one-stop-shop for students to navigate through research and funding opportunities and learn how to engage in a research project. Whether it is longitudinal research, a FLEX Track opportunity, or creating a research elective, it is our sincere hope that all medical students will find this site helpful throughout their careers at MUSC.

FLEX Tracks Information

Does the medical specialty I am interested in require research to be a competitive residency applicant?

In the most recent NRMP Program Director Survey (2020), residency program directors were asked about various factors used to select applicants to interview. Percentage of programs citing each factor and mean importance rating {on a scale from 1 (not at all important) to 5 (very important)} for each factor were reported. One of these factors was “Demonstrated involvement and interest in research” and all specialties combined were:

  • Percent citing factor: 36%
  • Mean importance rating (1-5): 3.7

These overall results are a great baseline but there are large variations between medical specialties. The list below includes those specialties shown to have an increased focus on research per this survey.

  • Interventional Rad: 82%, 3.4
  • Plastic Surgery: 75%, 4.4
  • Radiation Oncology: 73%, 4.7
  • Otolaryngology: 72%, 4.1
  • Neurosurgery: 69%, 4.3
  • Dermatology: 58%, 3.6
  • Orthopaedic Surgery: 50%, 4.1
  • Vascular Surgery: 50%, 3.7
  • Transitional Year: 46%, 3.8
  • General Surgery: 38%, 3.8
  • Urology/Ophthalmology (Please note these specialties are not part of NRMP and so are not included in this survey. However, both generally do require research to be a competitive residency applicant)

Please note that as this is a survey, there are inherent potential flaws in the results. Specifically pay attention to the “n” for each specialty. The full report can be found by following this link. It is also important to note that this does not specifically address the need for actual publications and presentations. Be sure to discuss this survey in context with your Careers in Medicine specialty advisor for further information.  You may also contact the Director for Medical Student Research, Dr. Steven Kubalak, for more information.

Things to Consider Before Starting

It is important to understand that there are a variety of types of research. There are some students that may like basic science “bench research” and others that may desire more clinically applied or “translational research.” Either way, conducting “good research” involves time and good mentoring. 

Some things to consider and ask yourself before beginning:

  • Do you want to do basic science or clinical research?
  • How much time do you have? Funded projects often require specific time commitments and requirements. Only commit to these if you can be sure to meet these deadlines and expectations. 
  • Consider programs that have a set curriculum or structure.
  • Consider a mentor with prior student mentoring experience (not necessary but often ensures they know what it takes to help students conduct research).
  • If all else fails, you can try and create your own opportunities. Emailing faculty in specialties of interest sometimes yields exceptional opportunities. You can use faculty search engines to help with this.
  • Be sure to set up objectives and structure prior to starting any project.
  • Research can be defined broadly. Writing up clinical case reports can be rewarding and serve as “low hanging fruit.”
  • Look for national grants on our MSRP website that may allow you to do research on your desire topic.
  • When designing 4th year research electives, you must use “design your own” electives forms found the College of Medicine Year 4 site and the rotation must be approved through the Dean’s Office. This ensures that the rotation has objectives of sufficient rigor for graduation credit.

Resources

Important Links