My Research Year Out in the Medical Scholars Program
by Stephanie Hadley, MS4
At the beginning of my third year of med school, I began to seriously consider applying for a research year. Having gone straight from college to medical school, I thought that doing a year of research before starting residency would be a good opportunity to gain experience in a different field and improve my research skills. I knew I wanted to conduct pediatrics research in a Spanish-speaking country in order to improve my fluency and be able to take care of Spanish-speaking patients throughout my career, but I wasn’t sure where to start looking for a mentor. I met with my Dean to talk about potential projects and she connected me with a colleague of hers in Barcelona, Spain, who researches neurologic development in infants following heart surgery. The Medical Scholars Program was perfect because it was extremely flexible in supporting an international project.
My experience in Spain was truly amazing. I loved the research topic and was given a lot of autonomy over my project, which definitely helped shape my view on how I’d like research to be incorporated into my career as a pediatrician. My mentors were incredible, supporting me when I needed guidance but also pushing me to be an independent researcher. My Spanish improved a lot with the help (and patience) of my friends and coworkers, I was able to explore much of Spain and Europe, and I made many lifelong friends.
While it was hard returning to campus a year later with my original class having graduated, I was lucky to share Barcelona with several of my closest friends who came to visit after Match Day. This year has definitely been different without them, but I wouldn’t trade my experience with the Med Scholars Program for the world.