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It depends on each school and what their focus is. Durham weather isn't that bad, Duke might be a good fit.
So a large research university is better than a smaller school? As far as Duke, UChicago, and Dart, It will probably take a complete mind change to go. I think you are from Canada, but being from Florida, I know I can't handle the depressing weather. I'm seriously contemplating UF or UM, but I'm not sure, in general really.
It depends on the school. Stanford is a large research university, so it prides itself on its research and offer several courses that place emphasis on research/independent study. So it's not very hard to get research experience at Stanford.
Smaller universities may not have similar focuses and may lack the facilities forcing you to seek research opportunities on your own.
If you're planning on going to the Ivy Leagues, UChicago, Duke, Vanderbilt etc, I don't think you'll have to worry about it. It'll probably be something you'll eventually have to do especially if you're planning on obtaining a natural sciences degree.
As well, it's not just medical research, it could be quantitative research in say history for example. Medical schools just want you to have some sort of exposure in research methods.
I don't think research is as important as a good GPA score or a good MCAT score for that matter. I know a girl who was an arts student and got into a top 20 medical school.
I'm thinking about going for med school, but I worried about research experience. Like, is that through the school, or is that something I would have to go and search for myself?
At Wharton, it was a concentration in actuarial science. When I transferred to Stanford, it was in Management Science and Engineering because the two were sort of compatible. I went through a couple of changes and finally graduated with a double major in Human Biology and Mathematics.
Your major doesn't really matter, in fact they reteach you everything starting from first year biology. It's all about the research experience, GPA, MCAT and extracurricular activities that you should worry about.
Taking a course on biomedical ethics would be extremely helpful for the interview though.
Hey, what did you major? I say this because I see your doing residency and I also kinda want to be in the medical field.