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Can you work full-time while in medical school? The real answer is No, you actually can’t. The burden of the immense amount of theory + Lab Practicals that a med student needs to absorb. Couple this with the clinical wards and mandatory rotations and boards, a med student is not able to work full time during med school. This means that you would be taking on loans to afford your living expenses during med school in the majority of scenarios. But you can work part-time during the summer and winter holidays, as well as during the early semesters or stages at the start of the year. You can also opt for working a few hours per day but making such a commitment will also be tough with any employer as you cannot guarantee your availability every single day. You will have to study for your class tests as well as for your mid-terms and finals. You would also need to clear the boards during the second year of med school so it gets quite challenging to guarantee part-time working hours even at your local supermarket.
But you can absolutely work in fields that don’t require a time commitment (i.e. the ones that don’t usually pay an hourly rate). The problem with working such jobs is that you will be result-driven and you can probably manage such jobs during med school. I would encourage you to get a part-time job or gig during med school but one that does not distract you when there comes a need to sit down and study hard. You went to med school for a reason. You made it your goal. So, getting low grades and poor board scores just because you were working should not be the case.
The only reason I recommend working during med school is because it allows you to cover your basic living expenses. This means that you would not need to take out further loans, just to get by. As with all loans you need to pay them back with a big interest. Plus the loans for living expenses come under personal loans or credit card loans and they can have as much as 40% annual interest rates. So these types of loans a no-go area for any individual especially if you do not have the funds ready to pay them back in a month or two.
What jobs can you do while in med school? How do I pay for living expenses while in medical school?
- Tutoring. Teaching younger students especially aspiring SAT and MCAT students can be a great way to earn some living expenses. You can teach via three methods. These include one-to-one teaching in-person, one-to-one teaching online via zoom or other video call options, and lastly by creating a course. Though creating a course may sound like a great option but you need traffic directed at the course in order to generate any earning from this. This is why I recommend teaching one on one in person first and then going on from there.
- Work as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). You can probably find work at your teaching hospital. You can opt to do EMT duties at the emergency department in off-hours such as nighttime or evening shifts or become a replacement EMT when someone goes on an emergency or casual leave.
- Phlebotomist. Ok, so this is a very easy feat as you will be learning and practicing this skill in your wards anyway. You can even do it as early as a first-year med school student. But if you are in your first year the hospital may require you to complete a course or a training program before you can enroll. The great thing about this job is that you will mostly be working in the lab as a desk job. You probably will get night or evening shifts but that is exactly just you want. You may also elect to be an emergency coverup in this field as well.
- Medical Scribe. Medical scribes jot down physician notes and do most of the charting. If you get a job like this it can be easy to manage with your studies as most of these jobs are home-based. But finding scribe jobs is very rare as many people want them, and some may be more qualified than you as well such as retired physicians, new moms who are nurses, and doctors so you may have to compete a fair bit here.
- Medical Research Assistant. This is one of those jobs which is paid in certain institutes and unpaid in others. But the problem with this job is that you probably will have to commute to a research center either within or outside your campus and it can be difficult to manage with your studies.
- Participate in Focus Groups or Surveys. This can raise a few dollars a month but it is not going to be a stable income.
- Work as a freelancer. The most obvious skill that you can sell here is your writing skills. Not handwriting skill, the pun was intended, I hope you caught it :). So, in this job, you would write a post or a news article, or a review of an article for an online publication. You may also be given a job to proofread or edit articles, for publication. Again there is a lot of competition here, not only with other doctors and healthcare providers but also writers and editors so you need to stand out from the crowd.
- The old Mcdonald’s. Finding part-time work at a restaurant can be the easiest feat. They will train you themselves. The pay is stable and good to just live on. You can also do jobs such as mowing lawns and others by the hours but you would need to find clients etc. so that is not recommended by me as it would start causing problems in your studies.
Do you get paid during medical school?
Nope, sadly you don’t. Med school is regarded as a professional degree and you don’t get paid until you clear it and enter residency. This creates a lot of burden for individuals who have already drawn out loans during college. These students need to draw out more loans for med school and hence they end up going further and further in debt. You need to couple this with the fact that you also can’t work full time and in most cases part-time as well. The constant burden of absorbing study material for your exams will always make you quit any part-time job as well, especially during the finals. So, this is probably why most counselors are now suggesting to get into med school after working for a couple of years after college and paying off your college debt before you go into drawing out more debt for med school.
Do medical students get summers off?
Yes, they do. Most students elect to do rotations and take up research opportunities during this time which is important especially for residency so working during summer can get challenging. I would urge you to find a job that you can do during your semesters and not something that you do in the summer.
Can you go to medical school for free?
If you get a scholarship, maybe. But in most cases, med schools require a hefty fee. Check this article by usnews.com to learn about ways to go to med school for free.
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