Tuesday 1 May 2012

sample letter asking for research experience

This is a sample letter asking for a chance to obtain research experience. Many applicants have good scores and USCE but may still fall short of matching because their resume is not well rounded to appeal to the programs they applied. Not all graduate medical education programs place emphasis on research but certain institutions or specialties do like applicants who have research background are not just scores and more scores. 

After you have decided on what kind of research you want to do, the next step is to prepare a list of faculty and institutions that you will correspond with. The basis of this list may be geographical (only places close to where you live in US), topical (research topic that you are interested in) or contextual (dependent on your CV or contacts).

Dear Dr. John Doe,

Medicine is an ever changing science and each change rests on newer scientific discoveries improving on the previous technique or method. I recognize the fluid nature of medical discoveries and comprehend that for a physician to excel in clinical care, firm rooting in scientific thinking is a must. Realizing this need to hone my scientific skills and to consolidate my fund of knowledge, I plan to purse clinical/basic/translational research in (your favorite subject here).

In my search for a research program, I came across your institution as a significant heavy weight in the areas of research in (your favorite subject here)[1]. I have had the opportunity to read up about the recently published work done by your team in __abc____ (pub med search the author or faculty, use this if they have published in the last 2 years, if not, DO NOT use this line). The results and conclusions in this report are relevant to my interest in __abc__ . In order to familiarize myself with the nature of research and to be a part of scientific community, I would like to offer my time and effort as a research apprentice/assistant. I am skilled in data mining, tabulation and representation [2] of data with familiarity in statistical methods [3]. I work well in a team and would be able to train and work with your graduate student/post doctoral research fellow without intruding on your time, their progress or laboratory workflow.

The benefit I bring to your team would be my clinical training and expertise in human disease and therapy. Though compensation for my time and effort would be a helpful incentive, lack of such will not preclude me from pursuing this opportunity. Your team is helped by more manpower and I receive research exposure. I can guarantee that after seeing my work ethic, scientific rigor and professional discipline, you would have no hesitation to draft a letter of recommendation on my behalf in your capacity as the research mentor.

Also, I am very interested in continuing this association by applying to your institution for residency starting in 20__. In this manner, we can continue to collaborate should I match in (your subject – medicine, peds, pysch, neuro etc) at (name of the institution). I am attaching a one-page resume for your perusal at this time [4], I will be more than happy to send a detailed CV, if you wish to consider extending me an offer to work with you.

Thank you,
First Lastname, MD (use MD, do not use any other degree unless the faculty is a physician himself and knows other medical degrees like MBBS etc)

1. Before you compose your email to the faculty do some background reading and home work regarding the work they do. This will make you sound exceptionally interested and make you appear a serious candidate.

2. If you don't know how to use excel or similar software, spend some time learning it. It will be the most useful skill set to learn in research data analysis. There are several videos on youtube and tutorials online on this topic.

3. Again, if you did biostats as part of PSM (preventative and social medicine) or epidemiology in medical school, now would be a good time to brush up on it.

If you like the example above, feel free to change it as suited to your needs. Dont forget to join me on facebook or follow on twitter


  1. Hi, I know you wrote this over a year ago but I´m curious in what you think is the best way to get into the "do research step". I sent around 50 emails to different faculties and institutions with no success. With the goal of matching next year I wonder if I should keep pursuing a research opportunity because many teams want somebody with at least a two year commitment.

    1. Hello Dr. Patricia, getting research experience as an apprentice (without a formal course like masters or PhD) is difficult but not impossible. sometimes, it is just a matter of sheer luck hence if you want to pursue this, you have to keep trying. remember, if your CV is accomplished otherwise then getting some research background will be helpful but it is not a substitute for getting clinical experience in US. If you cannot commit to the 2 year thing then I suggest you focus on other aspects of the application including making connections, continuing with medical education etc to keep your CV rolling.

  2. I am an international medical student in Russia; I still have 4 years to graduation and am interested in doing residency in the US. I would like your advice on how I can secure a residency: clinical electives, research electives and publications, especially for programs like Neurology, Surgery, Orthopaedic, cardiology. Your opinion is highly appreciated.


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