Q: How important to my application is current or recent research work, even if it hasn’t resulted in an abstract or publication?
A: There are numerous benefits of an applicant’s participation in research. A research project may help a resident or fellow decide on his or her enjoyment of investigation and its potential role in their career development and future. In addition, experience in a particular area of cardiology may help a trainee determine their sub-specialty focus within cardiology. Research certainly increases interaction between the trainee and mentor in research project itself, but also for ongoing career advising and collaboration.
Many cardiology fellowship programs require research experience during fellowship training, and as a result, previous experience and/or productivity in research may be a foundation for future projects. For a few programs, productivity in research such as oral presentations, abstract, and manuscripts may be important milestones in training which begin a “track record” of success (particularly for trainees with PhD degrees).
Finally, at the least, engagement in a research project will demonstrate that an applicant has been involved in cardiology to a greater extent than “required” or mandated by clinical rotations. Likewise, research experience may provide a topic or avenue for discussion between the applicant and interviewer at a greater depth than just a general interest in the broad field of cardiology. If a trainee has been involved in a research project, he or she should feel prepared and comfortable discussing the objectives, methods, potential limitations, results (if available), and significance of the project.