Career Planning Advice

Research and Extracurricular Activities


Research is indispensable in advancing medical knowledge that contributes to increasingly effective patient care. Many residency programs include research activity as a mandatory part of resident training, and some programs, particularly surgery and its subspecialties, strongly favour residency applicants who have already demonstrated some experience in research during medical school.

Careers in Medicine provides some articles on the topic of Research careers in Medicine.

If you think you might want to pursue a research-intensive discipline for residency or if you are just interested in finding out more about the research process, there are several ways to build experience.

Faculty of Medicine Research Bursary Program


This is a paid experience

You tend to gain very good exposure to the entire scope of a research project from planning to implementation to writing up a paper at the end


The time commitment is significant, so for most students, it will be most feasible during the summer following the first year


Consult the projects sponsored by the Faculty as well as the Office of Research of the Faculty.

Independently-organized research



Tends to be relatively flexible in terms of time commitment and schedule



Your involvement might be more limited (i.e., primary data collection/analysis) so you don’t necessarily taste the whole research project process

It is usually unpaid

It can be time-consuming to find a supervisor (but with perseverance it is possible)



These are less "procedures" and more "suggestions."

Speak with your Osler Fellow if he/she is in an interesting specialty to see if he/she knows of any research activities with which you could help

Contact residents in your field(s) of interest to see if they are working on projects or know of people who are working on projects that need assistance

See the listing of Research Opportunities for Science Students at McGill.

View departmental webpages for listings of current research activities or staff contact information so that you can get in touch with the department directly to inquire about possible opportunities

Check out IFMSA for Med1 summer ideas.

Extracurricular Activities

Programs do consider your extracurricular activities during residency applications (to a greater or lesser degree depending upon the competitiveness of the specialty you choose), but because your time and energy will be so precious, particularly during Med-3 and Med-4, it is important to make careful choices. Residency programs will highly value your involvement in activities that have meant something to you, activities that you enjoyed and that contributed something to your character and/or skills.

How to choose Extracurricular activities?

Consider looking through the lens of the CanMEDS Roles: Professional; Scholar, Health Advocate, Communicator, Collaborator, Manager, Medical Expert. Choose activities that help you develop these competencies. You can think about whether you want to improve a weakness in your dossier or build on an existing strength. If you haven't made a specialty choice, these are good approaches to choosing your extracurriculars.

If you have an idea of specialty preference, see if you can get a sense of what kinds of activities are valued or rewarded by that specialty. You can learn about this by reading about the Selection Criteria of various programs on CaRMS. Advice from specialty mentors, residents, and your Career Advisor may help you build an extracurricular action plan.

Consider defining a "profile" that aligns with your passions or values

Where does your passion lie? In teaching? In building new initiatives? In advocacy for vulnerable populations? In asking intriguing clinical questions and pursuing research? Inequity? In physician and medical student wellbeing? All of these values (and many more!) can be pursued in your choice of extracurricular activities.

The opportunities are endless

Find a niche for yourself! As just a few examples, consider:

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