Medical School Life

How to get started in research

Medical student sitting on a stack of textbooks

Conducting research in medical school can be greatly rewarding. It's also a great way to stand out to residency programs ahead of match season. The question for many medical students, however, is where to start. 

Call for abstracts

Submit your research abstract to the AMA Research Challenge: extend the reach of your work, enhance your CV and compete for $10,000. Free to AMA members!

Deadline: July 16, 2024.

Getting hands-on experience is key to building your research skills. If you don’t have prior research experience, don’t worry. Undergraduate research varies in depth and focus. All medical students really start from square one. 

  • Find your focus: It could be related to a specialty you want to pursue, a specific disease or condition you're curious about, or a health issue affecting the community. 
  • Find support: Your professors and fellow students can be great sources of guidance and encouragement as you embark on your research journey.
  • Crawl, walk, run: Give yourself time to learn and don't get discouraged. If you put in the time, you'll see growth and progression. 
  • Set a goal: When you feel ready, set a goal for yourself, whether that's presenting a poster at a live event or aiming to have something published. A deadline never hurts!
  • Look outside campus: You can find other opportunities through clinical research internships, summer research programs for medical students and more. 

The American Medical Association offers resources and programs to get you started in research. With an AMA membership, medical students can take advantage of these opportunities:

Presenting research

  • Research Challenge
      • Participate in the largest national, multi-specialty conference for medical students, residents and fellows, and international medical graduates to showcase and present research.
  • Research education sessions
      • Learn how to successfully prepare and present your research.
  • Poster Showcase
      • Present your research in person on a variety of topics, including basic science/translational, clinical, public health, advocacy and policy, and case report.

Keeping up on research trends

  • JAMA
      • Get access to the world’s largest peer-reviewed medical journal, with original research, reviews and editorials covering all aspects of medicine. 
  • UpToDate
    • Get evidence-based, physician-authored answers to clinical questions that incorporate the latest medical findings. 

Half the dues, all the AMA benefits!

  • Exclusive education programs & key study guides to help you thrive.
  • Access to JAMA Network™, ClassPass gym discounts & more!

Supporting you today as a medical student. Protecting your future as a physician.