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Clinical Research v/s Lab Research

by Dr. Hafiz G Hussain


If one wants to pursue a carrier in fields like Internal medicine or Surgery as most of us do, then clinical research is superior to Laboratory research.
Clinical research is usually related to gathering clinical data and analyzing it. It gives good amount of clinical knowledge as you go through patient’s clinical charts number of times in search of required variables. Also, clinical research is quicker way of getting publications compared to basic lab research. This kind of research is usually carried out by clinical faculty so their recommendations matter more than a basic Lab attending.
 In basic Lab research, researcher has to perform different lab procedures like Centrifugation, ELISA and electrophoresis etc. Though it gives a good amount of experience using these techniques and can prove a great plus if you want to pursue a carrier in pathology or other basic sciences but may not be very helpful regarding Internal medicine or surgery. Publications of basic work are powerful but usually fewer in number.
So if you have choice then, go for clinical research. Again, having any kind of research is superior to no research.
In my opinion Ranking should be like:

  1. Paid clinical research
  2. Paid basic lab research
  3. Unpaid Clinical research
  4. Unpaid basic Lab research


The Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills) is the examination that was formerly known as the CSA. To put it as simply as possible, it is just an OSCE with loads of frills. Nothing difficult, I assure you. However, you have to pass it in order to secure ECFMG certification (and hence any chance of matching). So, I would strongly advise that you do not take it too lightly, regardless of what anyone says. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to get a pre-match at the place of your dreams… and having to call them to tell them that you will not be able to join their program because you failed the Step 2 CS…

Earlier, the TOEFL examination was also a requirement for ECFMG certification. However, since the transition from CSA to Step 2 CS, the TOEFL examination is no longer required. The Step 2 CS itself will be used to check your ability to communicate.

The examination is available to be given throughout the entire year; however, it must be given before a certain deadline. It keeps changing. You’ll have to check the ECFMG website ( for the latest information.

There are some recommended times that one should give this exam. The vast majority of applicants are going to visit the USA on a three month visit visa. In this period, it would be highly desirable to give the Step 2 CS, interview at a dozen programs, and perhaps even sit for the Step 3 examination, if you have time. The biggest constraint is the fact that the interview season lasts from November to January – itself being a three month period. So, in order to maximize your chances of getting everything done before your visa expires, schedule the Step 2 CS somewhere in early November. You’ll get it out of the way before you start interviewing. Also, since you’ll land in the USA in early November, you can continue to stay till early February, potentially enabling you to sit for the Step 3 examination.

How to get Research?

By Dr. Ahsun Riaz


There are centers with a proper research fellowship application. NIH and good universities have amazing programs. The problem is that you compete against the same US medical students who have no visa issues etc. and have planned a year beforehand for this research year. (They usually take a year off during medical school or work during their summer vacations.) If you can plan so much in advance, then I recommend that you try this out. Google the websites of these institutions and send out the required documents. I tried this but was not able to get any positive replies.


The other way is hard but has paid off. The procedure I used is as follows,

1- Go to US News online. Find the top 30 US medical schools in terms of research.
2- Go to the schools’ websites and find the department you want to do research in.
3- Find faculty members with phone numbers and e-mail addresses. (Make a note of them somewhere.)
4- E-mail them with a general body text and a paragraph specific to the attending’s field of interest with your resume attached
5- Try to mail at least 100 people (20-25 will reply, 3-5 will have a positive tone, 1-2 will have a really positive tone)

Point number 5 is the most variable and depends on multiple factors. Luck and timing help a lot (timing as in applying well beforehand)

What you could do is as follows,

- Please try to search the attending you are going to work with on PubMed and make sure that he/she has at least 10 publications per year as a corresponding author. This will ensure that you will get a chance to get published multiple times.

Join Us, Write/ Review for Us.

Lately, me and many of my friends have been quite busy to regularly update this website or review its content. In order to help us continue this process of continuous professional enhancement, we need the help of our juniors, students we have been helping through this website. In case you are interested in reviewing content or compiling data for future posts of this website under my direct guidance/supervision, please let us know. You would be given a username and password for the website and your picture would be displayed with every work you do. I am sure this would also be a valuable asset for your CV like it was for mine.
The main purpose of this website was to help and guide all our junoirs, to provide them with all the necessary information that they need and to save their valuable time during medical school. If you want to help us in this noble cause, please join our hands to write more, provide more information, gather more data and present more content to them.
You can write a blog or page regarding electives/research/residency/any other thing and send it to us on umartariq58@ If your blog/webpage has valuable information for the medical students, it would be posted with your name(under your authorship) and you would have full access to edit/modify it. In addition your name would be added in the "list of contributors" of this website, mentioned in the Special Thanks section which can be valuable for your CV.
To write for us, please comment here and we would give you a username and password!
Best of luck! May God bless us with the "true" spirit of helping others!


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List of US Universities for foreign medical students

The following list was compiled in 2009; so the information provided might be outdated; visit the Universities' webpages to see the up-to-date and current details. Click on the name of university to open electives webpage of that university.

Never Lose Hope!

by Umar Tariq 


' Hope is a good thing, probably the best of all the things one could ever come across.'


 Keeping a clear vision and heart is important. There are moments when we are disappointed and dejected, when we totally loose hope but there is so much sadness in the world; for a moment consider those people who are less fortunate and less blessed than us, those poor  helpless people who cannot afford two times meals, who could not even dream of the basic necessities of life; those unfortunate people  who have lost their limbs/ their senses; even then, they all try to live life happily with a hope of better tomorrow; if they can... why can't  we?

 We are very lucky to be born with much blessed minds, bodies and souls than many other people of the world but that puts lots of extra  responsibilities on us for the ones less fortunate and we cannot fulfil those responsibilities if we lose hope in life.

The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure. Grief, sorrow, fear and apprehensions...all are integral part of life; they make us realize the 'true' reality of happiness and success, thus adding to the beauty of life. Life without fears and apprehensions would have been dull. They are like horror movies, breath-taking rides that many of us enjoy. Infact, we enjoy the feeling of fear. If we never fail, we never live...

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