How to get started with research as a medical student | Top Universities

How to get started with research as a medical student

By Baurzhan Irisbayev

Updated October 24, 2022 Updated October 24, 2022

Engaging in scientific research as an undergraduate medical student can help you to gain knowledge beyond the curriculum, learn how to investigate lesser-known medical issues, and give you experience to work collaboratively to find solutions.  

As medical students, life depends on our knowledge. Research can help us to learn as much as possible about the science behind healthcare, so we can have an impact on our patients and on the future of health. 

Here’s how to you can get started with research as a medical student:  

Join a science club 

Most universities have student clubs that you can join as soon as you enrol. They cover many themes and topics, but there will most likely be scientific-themed clubs you can join.  

At JSC South Kazakhstan Medical Academy, there is a scientific club for surgeons, biologists and for therapeutic disciplines, where students can analyse various clinical cases and gain experience for future work. 

Club members are always happy to see new people join and it’s a great way to carry out experiments you might not do in class. By joining the medical science club, I had the opportunity from my very first year to see the work of real doctors and gain knowledge and skills outside of the classroom. 

As part of the science club, I experienced a two-week internship at the Hospital of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, where students from the club were trained by the best specialists in the country. 

Get in touch with your professors 

At each university, professors lead various scientific research projects and often accept student researchers. It’s a great opportunity to understand how projects work and get involved in the process.  

For the past four years, I have been involved in two research projects – one in the field of diabetes control, and the second in the development of simulation technologies in education. I’ve gained experience in conducting various experiments in the laboratory, but I also got to teach students in the classroom.  

I presented the results with my team at six traveling international scientific and practical conferences, travelling across Kazakhstan to Almaty, Astana and Karaganda.  

Find opportunities outside of your degree 

As a student, there are ways to meet scientific researchers outside of your own degree programme.  You can do this at conferences, seminars and visiting other scientific clubs to start a conversation, ask questions and exchange contacts.  

When I met with researchers outside of my university, it showed me that being a scientist is cool and a great way to make a living too.  

I also found out about various science competitions at both a national and international level which allowed me to work on bigger challenges and submit my work for review. I even won a competition that led me to become a fellow of the International German Konrad Adenauer Foundation. 

These opportunities are great for your CV and can help you move up the career ladder because you were proactive in finding further knowledge and experiences for yourself. 

Look for interesting clinical cases in your work placements  

When I discover an unusual clinical case during practical classes and on hospital placements, I immediately discuss it with my teacher or supervisor, and we jointly observe the process of diagnosing and treating such a patient.  

With guidance, I talk with the patients to understand their history, lifestyle, symptoms and past procedures to understand how best to diagnose the more unusual cases. I can then go away and research potential new treatment methods and other similar cases.  

Having this curiosity around interesting medical cases will make me a more well-rounded doctor with the ability to challenge and find new solutions.  


I started engaging in research activity from my first year studying medicine and it has given me a huge wealth of knowledge and skills that I can apply to my work in the future. It’s helped me to get the most out of my studies and I’m looking forward to taking my research experience into my career. 

This article was originally published in October 2022 .

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