When you go on an interview for med school or residency, the interviewer will always ask you if you have any questions. (I recently drew a cartoon to that effect.) My advice is to have questions. At the very first med school where I interviewed, I was asked that question and I honestly just didn't have any questions.... I had already spoken to half a dozen med students, gotten a tour of the hospital, and had an interview with another person. So I honestly answered, "No, no questions."
The interviewer looked at me in complete and utter horror. I was later rejected from that school.
So I came up with a few go-to questions. One of them I always asked was, "What are the research opportunities like at this school/residency program?" I had absolutely no interest in research. But interviewers like it when you seem interested in research, because it brings prestige to the hospital.
Years later, I found myself in a research fellowship, finally putting my money where my mouth was. I applied for an award that would have paid my salary for several years and launched me into a career in research. I convinced myself that research was what I wanted to do, that it would be great for my resume and that it would allow me flexibility in my life more than a clinical career. It also seemed like research was a good career for a mother. It actually surprises me that so few women do it.
Unfortunately, my application for the award was promptly rejected. "Too many applicants, blah blah blah." I'm not used to academic rejection and it felt awful. As I read the email in disbelief, I decided that I couldn't live my life this way. I would not apply for future research awards. I would be a clinician, not a researcher.
Because I like to make lists, these are the reasons I ultimately decided research was not for me:
1) I don't like the feeling of being rejected, which I'm told is something you have to get used to in research (and love).
2) Although few jobs are permanent, living from grant to grant is nerve-wracking, I've heard.
3) Due to the economy, I've seen a lot of research departments getting served with major cutbacks. This might be a bad time to start being a researcher.
4) I do think a job in research lends flexibility, but it also results in a workday that never ends. When you're a researcher, you're basically always working or feeling like you ought to be. For the first time in my life, I'd like to be able to get home from work every day and just be able to relax.
5) I miss treating patients for the sake of making them better, rather than eying them as research subjects.
6) I personally don't get excited about research. I don't think research protocols are cool. I mostly think they're agonizing and have lots of frustrating red tape. I could spent hours whining about my 100-page IRB application, but I think I've already gone on for too long.
I do want to continue to publish interesting case reports, but I think my research experiment is officially over.