Health professions schools value research. Participation does not need to be in bench research it can span research in humanities or social science. Critical thinking skills, being able to read and evaluate data, analyze published articles, and your ability to work as a member of a team are all important skills for healthcare providers to have that can be honed in research. A research experience will sometimes result in your participation on a paper, abstract or poster. Research mentors often write a letters of recommendation for health professions schools as they know you and your work personally.
Students who find they enjoy research may consider a MD/PhD route and would want to pursue sustained research in an area of interest.
For information on research experiences, at Duke and elsewhere, see the Undergraduate Research Support Office website and the following: