A Bit of a Career Dilemma...

Well folks, I’m rapidly approaching the end of my post-bacc prereq work. I have one more semester to go, I take my MCATs in April, will finalize my applications in May, and mail them in June.

At that point, I’m going to need to find a job, sit back, and wait and see what happens.

The question is, what sort of job? I’ve heard it said many times that admissions committees look favorably on people who have worked in the field. I’ve volunteered in a hospital for a year, and both my parents were physicians so I’ve seen the field up close and personal. I just have never held a “paying” job doing it.

Currently, I’m a furloughed airline pilot, and I do have recall rights at the airline I worked for. Basically that means that when they start rehiring, they have to offer us our old positions back first (in a post 9-11 world, that should take about another 5-7 years).

So should I look for some sort of a job that would keep me in the air in something - corporate jet/flying rubber chickens for export in China/aviation gopher for a Sultan - so my skills wouldn’t rust away? Or should I bite the bullet and go get a CNA certification and go work in a hospital? If I get into medical school, the latter scenario has a happy ending. And, although I want to do everything I can to maximize the strength of my application - I don’t want to inadvertently trade my old career for one as a lifelong hospital gopher.

As they say, the devil is in the details.

Your thoughts?

You could look for a medical service flight job.
When I was a youngin’ (back in 1993), I was in a nasty-bad mt. bike wreck in Big Bend, Texas and had to be flown from Alpine to TTMC in Lubbock. I vaguely remember the flight (concussion, fractured ribs) and the pilot, but my husband got to sit up front and tells me that the flight was SMOOTH as could be.

First, my quick, off-the-cuff, answer: Do whatever pays the bills - and if possible, helps you salt away some money. Your job during the ‘glide’ year is not terribly relevant to admissions committees. Your application is going to contain the stuff that really matters - although sometimes prereqs or other coursework are “pending completion” during the application year, the other parts of the application such as volunteer and clinical work are pretty much complete. You’re not going to be filing an addendum to your application, right?
So do what pays, or what you really WANT to do this year. Do NOT do what you think someone else might like you to do. Enjoy the year. If you like flying and this is your last chance to do some for money for awhile, by all means see if you can book some gigs. If you WANT to switch gears and do something different, go for it.
Now, to prove that I do think before I post (sometimes): there IS the possibility that your job during the glide year will be relevant. You may be asked about it on interviews, and you may want to be able to describe something meaningful - maybe you’re worried about your application in that regard. Or (as happened to me) you may get wait-listed, and in your update letters where you remind schools how much you want to go there, you’ll want to be able to say, "I’m working in Calcutta with Mother Theresa."
So if you really feel that it would be useful to broaden your experience, it’s worth a try. But if you think you’ve got sufficient background experiences that anything you do this year is not really going to add much, go back to the money. No one can fault you for being financially sensible prior to starting medical school.
Caveat emptor: the above post consumed after consumption of 12 ounces of malt beverage.

I’m just curious–during the glide year doesn’t it make sense to keep taking courses (assuming your financial situation can handle it)? I would have thought, the more you know, the better and easier an experience you’ll have once you’re in medical school. I keep hearing about people taking advanced biology and genetics, anatomy, advanced organic chem, higher math, etc. On the other hand, perhaps the med school curriculum also presents a set of challenges for which you can’t be prepared “on the outside”?

IMHO extra coursework doesn’t give you enough of a leg up to be worth it. Med school biochem, histo, anatomy etc. are all very different from the same courses being taught from a different perspective. Yeah, it would be nice to have heard some of it before but all in all, I’d go for having the time to pursue stuff you WON’T have time for in school, and give yourself a break during that year.
Don’t forget that you will be doing interviews and such during your glide year, too, and if you’re in class, you’ll need to work around that schedule. That’s also true of work, of course, but it may be a little easier, hard to say.
Bottom line is each person is going to make a decision that is different based on personal circumstances. I was VERY glad not to be taking classes that year.

I agree with keeping your current career going (in whatever form you can), and then if you want “patient contact”, you could volunteer in some health-related work. Volunteer work doesn’t need to be in a hospital setting. There’s nursing homes, state hospitals, hospice, etc. and admissions committees look favorably on applicants who walk their talk. Just be sure that any volunteer experience you have is something that you are genuinely interested in. Sock away as much money as you can (but don’t sweat that too much…you can still get financial aid if your credit score is good). Good luck!