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Research and Volunteering

Why get involved in research?

Being involved in research may play a part in your medical career, depending on your chosen specialty and personal and professional goals. Not all specialties place the same level of importance on research experience in evaluating residency applicants, but it’s important to know your options if your chosen specialty emphasizes research experience or if you plan to pursue academic medicine.

AMA Article: How Medical Student Research Can Resonate with Residency Programs

How to get involved in research

Begin with identifying what areas of interest you have in medical research through scientific journals and publications, identifying faculty investigators who are actively conducting research, and perusing the AAMC Research and Training Opportunities website. You can also find out about research opportunities through residency interest groups and by talking with third- and fourth-year students. Residents in a given field are also one of the best contacts for finding research opportunities. Try to meet any residents in a given field possible. Keep in mind that research involvement does not necessarily mean you necessarily have to present the research at a formal meeting or conference.

Reaching Out to OU Research Investigators

Once you’ve identified a potential research opportunity, prepare your CV and a personalized cover letter to send by email to request to participate in principal investigator’s research. As with all guidelines for professionalism in outreach, the following guidelines are intended to provide a framework, but be mindful that these guidelines may not apply in every instance.

General Guidelines

  • Include a clear subject line. (e.g., “[Study Name] Research Team Participation”)
  • Use complete sentences and pay attention to grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • Utilize recipient’s formal title (e.g., Dr. Jane Doe or Dr. Doe)
  • Send all communication from your OUHSC email address
  • Include your signature block with contact information, including email and telephone
  • Attach your most updated CV to your email

Sample Email Components

While specific cases may vary, generally include the following:

  • Where you are in your medical school journey and any specialties you plan to pursue
  • State the name of the study and OR the area of interest (e.g., “I am very interested in transplant surgery research.”)
  • What you specifically aim to get out of being on the research team
  • Any previous research experience and/or what areas you would want to help with
  • Contact info and availability

Helpful Links

Community Volunteering

Students participate in community volunteering through the student organization called OU Community Health Alliance (OUCHA). The OU Community Health Alliance is an organization of OU medical students, in cooperation with other students across the Health Sciences Center, who aim to better the healthcare system in Oklahoma City. Learn more about OUCHA.