Amos Liew on research as an international student

1) Why are you interested in doing research as a student?

Firstly, as for many students, research is an opportunity to make our resumes stand out. With the increase in the supply of doctors with reduce in demand for specialists, a lot of students are using their available time now to do research. Likewise, I decided to dwell into research in order to improve on my personal resume.

Furthermore, I saw research as an opportunity to understand more about the specialty that I had an interest in. Currently, I am doing a research paper under a Paediatric Surgeon at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. The topic that I am covering on (bowel and bladder dysfunction) has allowed me to understand the problems faced between by both the community and the medical professionals. Eventually, I hope the time that I spent on research can have a positive impact on the prognosis of patients that fall under my topic.

2) How did you find and organised an opportunity to be involved in research

Many health services have research coordinators that assist students in finding research. However, as I wanted to embark on a subject that I was interested in, it took me some time before I decided to do research under Paediatric Surgery. I emailed various paediatric surgeons from various health services, and eventually got a reply from my current supervisor. He met up with me shortly after, and we go started on my research within a short period of time.

3) What you gained out of your experiences and whether you would recommend it to other students

Embarking on a research project would require some time to be sacrificed. The process of collecting the data, and formulating it into some form of discernible number can be very time consuming. Many times, it can be very demoralising to look at a screen full of numbers, not knowing what their true values are. In these moments, it is very easy to lose focus on the aim of your project. Hence it is very important to always seek help from your supervisors whenever it is needed.

Furthermore, it is important to embark on a topic that you have an interest in and not just follow the bandwagon. It might require some time to consider before an actual decision can be made. However, proper preparation would ensure that you do not easily lose focus and interest on the research that you have been tasked to do.

Lastly, do not be too overly ambitious at the start. As a 3rd year medical student, I helped with the data collection for various projects. Although, slogging through sheets of data was mentally draining, it allowed me to understand the basics of research. Gradually, I could build confidence in my research capabilities, and eventually head a research topic with the help of my supervisors.

Research isn’t for everyone. However, in this competitive medical nature, most medical professionals would embark on research eventually. Hence, I believe an appropriate time to start is as a 3rd year medical student. There is adequate time to balance between studies, co-curricular activities and research. Furthermore, having an early understanding of actual research beyond what we learn in our textbooks would give you an advantage in the medical field in the future.

Eventually, if you are able to dedicate time to research, I’d say why not?