2020 Summer Service & Research

COVID-19 has created a unique and changing landscape for medical students, leaving many to ask about how to adapt plans and goals set for service and research this summer. These frequently asked questions are intended to help medical students use their time in the coming months wisely to still enhance skill development and gain new experiences to support residency goals.

Is research on hold right now and into the summer?
Right now, a lot of clinical research and a fair amount of bench research has been put on hold. We don’t know how long until we will start to see more research activity again and even what that will look like when it resumes. Please rest assured that the School of Medicine will communicate with you when opportunities for you to participate in research arise both now and in the future.

What about research that I had already planned with a faculty member?
You are encouraged to reach out to that faculty member to discuss how COVID-19 may affect the project and to brainstorm ways that the project could potentially continue in a different manner.

Are the Summer Scholars research program and the Landings Cancer Research program still moving forward?
Planning is still in progress for both programs. Landings Scholars are encouraged to remain in communication with their faculty mentor and Dr. Visalli for updates. Student applications for the Summer Scholars program will be released the first week of May. Remote and distance protocols are being reviewed for the Summer Scholars program.

What if I have not yet secured a research position but would like to still pursue research in the coming months?
Here are a few research ideas for you to consider:

  • Population/Community Health Research: There are some really exciting population health projects that can be undertaken while maintaining proper safety protocol and social distancing. Talk to your PHMR faculty, Community Medicine faculty, and Community Medicine preceptors about their research and if they need assistance.  There may be opportunity to participate in data collection, analysis, or writing. Consider exploring your own research topic as well! If you choose to research independently, you are encouraged to seek out and work with a faculty mentor.
  • Case Reports: If you are in your clinical years you may have come across a case that was particularly interesting. Write it up! Pre-clinical students, you can get involved with this too. Several of your faculty members have case information for you to review.
  • Library Research: Have a big question that keeps you up at night? MUSM digital library services are available 24/7.  You are also familiar with our incredible librarians who can help point you in the right direction. Dive into the books and write up your findings!

Are there still ways to be involved in service right now?
Absolutely! Service is a great way to build your skillset. Often when we think of serving our communities, we think of a very hands-on approach.  The approach has changed right now, but the needs have not.  In many ways they are even greater. Many of you have already found ways to contribute to your communities during this upheaval, but if you are looking for ways to get involved here are some ideas:

  • Talk to your classmates and keep an eye on the listservs. Many MUSM students are involved in or leading community-based projects right now.  There are many doors already open for involvement.
  • Have you interacted with a local non-profit in your community before?  Give them a call or message them on social media and ask them what they need right now.  Can you rally a supply drive? Help them call and check on their clients?  It’s amazing how many things can be done remotely if only there are enough volunteers.
  • Stuck on how or whom to ask? Email Sarah Schanck, Director of Career Counseling and Student Research Coordinator. She is happy to help you find a place to connect.

I have more questions and need individual assistance with planning. Who do I contact?
Changing your well thought out plans can be overwhelming but sometimes taking a different path than anticipated can yield incredible outcomes. Please reach out to Sarah Schanck, Director of Career Counseling and Student Research Coordinator, for individual assistance. Remember that in addition to talking about research and service, she can help you with your CV, personal statements, specialty exploration, and other career-related topics. For assistance, schedule a Zoom meeting with Sarah or email her at schanck_sm@mercer.edu.