Does anybody in med school work too?

Ok, I’m still really early in this whole process (I won’t get my Ugrad til 2006), but I commented to my significant other tonite that I had started to research med schools. So far I’ve gotten through the A’s, B’s, and started the C’s biggrin.gif So far I’ve been intrigued by Einstein, Baylor, Boston, and Case Western and I told him that and he was like well have fun at any of those places. He’s very supportive of me, but we don’t live together or are even considering living together before we’re married which neither of us plans on doing anytime soon (although we’ve been together for 5 years almost now). I commented that I didn’t think there would be any place with a med school that he would really be interested in living anyway so when it comes time it will probably be long distance. (If UT Austin actually had a med campus that is one place I’m sure he’d think about following me too lol).
Anyway, he also commented that he realizes that I won’t have much time in med school anyway to which I commented that so far I’ve seen several schools that don’t have anything scheduled in the afternoons/evenings. He was like yeah you study and work. Study I agree with but I wasn’t really planning on working…in fact it never crossed my mind that I would be working. I kind of assumed financial aid and loans would cover that (after all I’m totally independent, not working currently, and even if I do include my parent’s info - which I know a lot of schools require regardless of age - my father is retired and raising 2 school age children (doubt i’d use his info anyway since my folks are divorced), and my mom makes less than $35,000.)
So…what are financial aid packages really like? Especially for those out there that are single and don’t have a sig other to pay rent, food, etc…do you still have to work or are you covering everything with loans and financial aid? And if you are working, how much are you working?
–Jessica, UCCS

I’m not there yet either, but I get the impression that working while in medschool is definitely the exception as opposed to the norm.
I’ve read posts over at the Student Doctor Network where people discuss working during their first year or two, but the general concensus seems to be that it’s not worth it unless you get a job with lots of study time (3rd shift help desk, security guard, etc.).
As far as loans go, check out this site. It’s got a decent description of the federal loan programs and a financial aid estimator.

Hi there,
Since I was a Pediatric/Perinatal Respiratory Therapist when I entered medical school, I worked as a contract therapist on weekends after exams and on holidays. The nice thing about being a contract therapist was that I could set my own hours and that the pay was very high. My RRT work provided vacation money and plenty of book money. I was also a peer tutor for the School of Dentistry teaching Gross Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology to the Dental Students when I was a second-year student. I also taught Biochemistry for our pre-matriculation program during the summer between my first and second year.
It was virtually impossible to work other than holidays and the weekends after exam week was over. We usually started a new block on the Monday after exams so that we had mini-vacations on that weekend. Most of my fellow medical students partied or just let off steam but I took the opportunity to earn some cash.
You should not plan on being able to work during medical school. If you find that you need more money that your financial aid, you should look into borrowing more. Putting your grades in jeopardy to try to make ends meet is not a wise investment. You can always borrow more and have the time to put into your studies. You may end up failing out of medical school as some of my first-year colleages did when they tried to work. If you have a family, you are going to want any extra time to spend with your sig O and kids. Even those of us who had well-paying jobs were only able to work an occasional weekend or on major holidays such as Christmas. You just don't have that much time. I did not work during third year other than my clinical clerkships. During fourth year and after I had my passing score on USMLE Step II and I knew that nothing stood between me and graduation, I did more outside work and less study. Finally, I rested up before starting residency because you will find out that you are going to need the rest.
Your job as a medical student is to get the best grades that you can. You really need to have plenty of time to study and take boards and exams. You might be able to fail an occasional exam or even one course but you have to work fairly hard to do well. While medical school is hard to get into, staying in and doing very well is even harder. If you fail your board exams, you are going to be limited as to specialty and residency program. Even though General Surgery was less competitive last year, you still needed to be well above 200 and in the top quartile of your class in order to get into a good Surgical residency program. This year, General Surgery was more competitive. While Internal Medicine and Family Practice is less competitive, the good programs want students who have scored well on boards and in class. If you do well, you can detirmine you own fate.


I have been working a bit as a first year medical student. A few of the other first years also work but the majority do not. There are also some other creative ways to earn some extra cash just to keep the loan amounts as small as possible.
For one job I work for the medical school entering curriculum data into a database. It is not very time consuming and they pay me for more hours than I actually work. It doesn't pay great but I take home about $400 a month, and I definitely don't work that hard. The other job I have is as a teacher for Kaplan MCAT courses. It's about $75 to prepare and teach a 3-hour session plus $70 on a Saturday to proctor an exam (and I can sit and study or do school work while doing that). This is not very often (one every few weeks) but it helps with the bills. Another way I get some income is by volunteering in clinical research. This can be a bit abusive as they do things like take biopsies, draw blood, etc. But it does earn some money…some as high as $300 but usually $50 or so for a blood draw and an office visit. Yet another way I get some money is housesitting and dog sitting. Rich doctors tend to like to have responsible people take care of their homes and pets and are willing to pay you some money to do it. Depending on how many animals I have to take care of can make about $150 per week doing this when I can find the work. It is possible to work if you are creative in finding the jobs that don't take too much of your free time. At times I get a bit overwhelmed, but I think this is the case even for the students that don't work.
The loan/scholarship package at my school is great. The tuition is low, then all students get at least 50% scholarship, and then Stafford loans can cover the rest of tuition and living expenses. Schools that are more expensive or are in areas with high costs of living might require additional private loans in addition to the Federal Stafford loans. Working is definitely not a necessity.

Thanks guys-- I didn’t think most people worked in med school, and while I haven’t seen my new financial package for next year (I was laid off at the end of Dec) I’m hoping that I won’t have to “work” again until I’m done with this wild and crazy road. After all I want to be able to fit in my volunteering and research too! lol. My bf just got me wondering a bit with that comment about working so thanks for the reassurance that my ideas weren’t totally off base tongue.gif
–Jessica, UCCS

There is one thing nobody has addressed in this so I'll add to it. Some schools offer the chance to split year one into 2 years and let you take .5 of the classes one year and the other .5 the next. It puts you on a 5 year track. Essentially, at some schools you go to school until 12pm and then you are off. The next year you do the afternoons and then have mornings free.
I would think, if you are disciplined, you could work a little and stay up on everything.

I worked during med school, but I was an exception. I know that 8 of us (out of about 160). 3 of these folks worked for Kaplan for a short time teaching MCAT classes…they got paid and earned credit toward a step 1 class. 4 of us (myself included) were suture techs at our trauma center…a job designed specifically for med students, involving roughly 24 hours a month with fairly flexible scheduling (ie when it was time for M2 exams, all the M2 requested off and usually got it off). One person that was RN before school worked on weekends as RN. I tried a stint as NP at the children's hospital (I worked for 2 years prior to med school as NP) but it really didn't work out very well. I was the peon, couldn't get any decent shifts, and when I started the job in middle of 2nd year, I had forgotten a lot of basic, simple stuff (cuz I had spend 1.5 years cramming tons of trivia into my head)
Basically, it's pretty easy to get loans for med school. Just make sure you don't have any consumer debt like credit card or car payments, becuase they won't give you any for that. I'd plan on not working and then after the first semester, depending how you handle it, you could take advantage of an opportunity that presents itself. The key is that it be minimal and flexible hours, or something that requries little attention so you can study. My suture tech job, we're allowed to do whatever we want when there's no suturing to do (study, scrub cases, follow residents and do procedures, etc). But often it's so busy that I don't sit down all night…I just sew. Plus I fell pretty comfortable with trauma (which will serve me well in June when I start residency, I hope) I'm very glad I did it, but it's definitely not for everyone.
the free time you see scheduled in med school schedules is for studying, not working.

md03 - that’s kind of my problem though…old consumer debts. By the time I get to med school tho I think most of that stuff will be completely off my record but when I first got out of high school I really wasn’t ready for the “real” world - you know stuff like balancing a check book, paying bills, doing laundry, cooking. My mom tried to teach me that stuff but it never sank in so I made a lot of mistakes in my late teens/early 20s. Mpw I’m almost 29 and most of it has disappeared from my credit already, but I just hope the rest of it will be off by the time I go to med school.
Anyway, thanks for all the great advice guys biggrin.gif
–Jessica, UCCS

Oh, I wouldn’t worry much about old crap on your credit report - you’ll still be a good risk for a med school loan because doctors have a ridiculously low default rate on their student loans. What md03 meant was, if you have financial obligations that are outside the norm for a medical student (e.g., a large balance with monthly payments on a credit card, or a mortgage, or tuition for your KIDS’ college - my case), you will not be able to borrow money for any of that “outside the box” stuff. (If you have undergrad loans, you’ll be able to defer them I think, and they won’t count against you when you’re considered for a med school loan, either.)
Med schools prepare a “standard budget” for their students each year. It shows their estimates for expenses for tuition & fees, and also for books & equipment, test expenses, the cost of applying to residencies & travel to residency interviews, etc. It’s customized for your year - so my MS-III budget doesn’t have any test fees worked in, but it has a much bigger travel allowance vs. MS-I or II because of travelling to different rotation sites.
Anyway, no matter what your personal financial situation, you will ONLY be able to borrow based on the “standard budget,” which has pretty minimal allowances for luxuries like food and housing. tongue.gif So part of your prep for med school should be to minimize your indebtedness in other areas.

QUOTE (Mary Renard @ Apr 1 2003, 08:28 PM)
(If you have undergrad loans, you'll be able to defer them I *think,* and they won't count against you when you're considered for a med school loan, either.)

Hi Mary!
Just a quick clarification on undergrad loans - I only know this because I have them and I've been researching how they affect med school loans.
Undergraduate loans are placed in deferment when you enter med school. You have the option of paying the interest on those loans while in deferment, or have the interest rolled into the capital - "capitalized". If your loan is part of the national loan database, you won't even have to inform your lender to apply for a deferment. Once you register for school, your status is electronically updated and your loans are placed in deferment for you.
The only way that undergrad loans count against you when it comes time to borrow for med school is for Stafford loans. There is a total limit of $189K that you can borrow for all types of school, and if your undergrad loans are Stafford loans, the amount you've already borrowed is counted against that total loan limit.
This doesn't mean that you borrow less - it just shifts the amount of loan you can borrow from the gubmint, and you will have to borrow more from private lenders - with higher interest rates and less favorable repayment plans.
As for working while in med school ...
I don't want to, but I was hoping to make up some of the 'gap' between loans and a realistic budget by borrowing from my parents. But, an act of arson destroyed my mom's business and I am now doing up the paperwork for reciprocity to work in Cali as a medic. I don't dare ask my mom - she'd give me the money even if it put her in the poor house.
Our hospital paramedic service - where I work, was just told that they were laying all of us off in the next month or so. On the outside this paints a bleak picture, but truth be told, I could use whatever severance package they offer, and I will just work another medic job or three until it's time to move. The towns we provide medic coverage are what I worry about the most, as they will have no ALS coverage until they hammer out some other deal with a private service. Oh well, I guess the hospital was tired of shelling $500K a year for the service.
- Tae