Many students have asked if research experience is a necessary component of a Pre-Health Portfolio. My answer is, "It depends."
Certain pre-health tracks value research experience on a CV and graduate application. Students interested in MD/PhD programs absolutely need to have a robust, longitudinal research background to substantiate their desire to pursue this degree.
All pre-health students are strongly encouraged to engage in research to gain experience in the following: working as part of a research team, creation of a research hypothesis, engaging in data collection, analysis of data outcomes, learning to use new laboratory equipment, scholarly writing, critical thinking, and formal presentation of results.
If you are a pre-health student thinking/hoping/planning to find a research opportunity: be creative! Graduate programs in healthcare value all types of research. Projects can be completed in wet labs, in the humanities, doing survey research work, in public health, or another area of interest.
The AAMC posted this helpful article with some additional tips regarding research opportunities. And here is a specific list of Summer Undergraduate Research Programs, also from the AAMC.