1) Go to a big name institution known for its research for the summer (my home institution is not so i used loans to travel to aforementioned research institution)
2) Do clinical research, but research that matters. the "matters" part was the key to motivation. see #4.
3) Love the research, your mentor and people you work with.
4) Don't say no to anyone/ any projects; ask for more projects--make a name real quick for yourself as a hard worker (not smart...just hard working). Meaning: working independently and getting things done well before the deadline given to you.
5) Wake up at 4:30 a.m. and work straight until 10/11p.m. for 2 months straight. a couple of days off here and there, but very few. Each day is optimized for research--i.e. 1 huge meal a day so you don't waste time eating 3.
6) These aren't done yet, so I'm just speculating at this point but before I apply for the match I should have (from this past summer): 1 or 2 first authors (maybe more), several abstracts, a couple of papers where I'll be 2nd author, several where I'm on the paper, but not #'s 1 or 2.
It was a hard works meets luck game at the end of the day and I used hard work to maximize the returns of the luck.