This is a repost, from a while ago, and particularly apt at the beginning of the semester as we may be recruiting new students into our labs.
What criteria do you have for bringing in premeds to do research in your lab?
There are so many reasons to keep away from premeds. For starters, premeds are more prone to:
- want research “experience” but don’t want to do actual research
- drop lab duties at the drop of a hat whenever an A- might happen
- walk away as soon as they think their stellar recommendation letter is a lock
Of course it’s unfair to apply these stereotypes to actual human beings. Even if they are premeds.
It’s difficult to filter unmotivated students, because I have known so many premeds that have been quick to feign interest. But you can’t do research for long if you don’t love it. The bottom line is that if I’m going to invest into a student, I want them to stick around. When you take on a premed, you’re taking a bigger chance that the investment won’t pay off in terms of data productivity. There are enough non-premeds in my midst that I can wholly avoid premeds, when properly identified. But I still accept them on occasion.
I can think of only one good reason to take on a premed. But it’s a really good reason. You can convert them. It’s tempting. After all, most premeds don’t go to med school, and their premed experience is a big mistake. You can rescue these students early on. You can show that a becoming a scientist is a real option. It gives you the opportunity to make a genuine difference in someone’s life.
Early on, I got burned plenty of times. But I had some successes, and now I have a better spidey sense when a premed is looking for a route off the path that they (or their families) have created. My main motivation is karmic. In retrospect, I still have no idea why I was a premed environmental biology major. The professor who took the chance on me is still an excellent mentor to me, and I like to think that it’s my duty to pass the favor along to her academic grandkids.