Managing a fulltime job and clinical experience

Hey Everyone,

I am enjoying this forum. I have come across a lot of informative information but I am unable to find any information pertaining to people who work fulltime and get research/primary care type of experience.

I work fulltime, go to school part time, and I am gearing up to take the MCATs in April 2007. I have spoken with a couple of schools and the two biggest glaring holes in my application has been my MCATs (which I will be taking) and some kind of experience in a medical environment. I am worried about the latter because its difficult to find hospital programs that will accept me; rather its difficult to find hospital programs that do not conflict with my job. I work from 2pm - 2am and often that conflicts.

So this being a nontraditional forum, maybe some of you could give me some nontraditional advice about ways to get that clinical experience that will not conflict with my schedule. All I know is I have to make sure I start doing something by May 15th so I could at least say I have a few months in a medical environment.

Thanks in Advance,


Hi Dean,

Welcome to the forum! Question, do you work 5 days a week? I mean at 60 hours a week, it does seem as though you are going to have more time crunch conflicts. As hard as this sounds, you need to make the priorities and find your time. What kind of work do you do with those hours?

Working full-time myself (7 p to 7:30 a 3X/week), I’m not unsympathetic. I currently work as a health unit coordinator/cardiac monitor tech on an acute cardiac floor…so I’m hoping that this works in my favor. I know I still have to get some other EC for my applications.

Again, welcome. I’m sure that you will find this forum very welcoming.


Hi Krisss17,

Thank you for the response. Yeah, I do work 60 hours a week. Its at a university doing web publishing mainly. I think your job will work well for you. I wanted to get a job in the healthcare field but being my undergraduate degree was in the liberal arts field, not too many offers came my way (I think I might have only got one interview out of about forty positions I applied for (over a years time)). Now it would be too much trouble to get another job, mainly financial. I definitely agree with you about the priorities but as all of you probably know, your bill companies don’t care about your priorities, lol.

Anyway, as a health unit coordinator, I am assuming you work in a hospital setting. Have you heard of people shadowing physicians at off hours. Basically, have you seen people shadow a physician from like 3am - 7am or hours similar to those?




Have you explored post-midnight volunteer positions in the local hospital emergency room? This might be a good fit for your schedule, and probably there’s a paucity of volunteers willing to work those hours. Good luck,

Hey Dean,

Well, you don’t really see as many physicians on the floors at those hours unless a patient has need of an immediate consultation. There are a few physicians that will come in around 5 am to do their rounds, and the doctors that we usually see are the hospitalists that cover for many attendings, but I don’t see that there is an opportunity to shadow.

First, I totally understand about bills as I’m sure everyone on this forum does as well, considering we are all nontrads dealing not only with our schooling, but also real life stuff like raising a family, paying a mortgage, etc.

It will come down to the fact that eventually you will have to cut your hours…once you get to medical school, that will be your job. You need to really ask yourself if you want to do this as only you will have that answer, and then you are going to think of how you are going to accomplish it.

You don’t need to have an extensive medical background to get some work in the hospital. Once you get into a hospital setting you will have more opportunity to see a side of medicine you don’t see as an outsider.

Best of luck!


Hey All,

I think I am going to try the volunteering after midnight in the ER. I understand your argument about sacrifice but its just not feasable. One, while its my dream to be a doctor its no garuntee that if I do this I will get into medical school. Two, I seriously can’t afford to cut back on my hours. I live paycheck to paycheck as is and to cut back my hours just wouldn’t work (besides I work for a University and its a union job. I don’t think I have permission to cut back on my hours). For now, I guess I am going to have to hope for that late night ER volunteer opportunity and hope I can survive on caffeine.



there really is a point to getting clinical experience… it’s not just a hoop to jump through. before subjecting yourself to this long, expensive, arduous process, it’s a good idea to see it up close. patient contact can be unpleasant and nasty, as well as rewarding. you should see all that before you decide. for yourself, not just for the adcoms.

you might try a free clinic if there is one in your area… i volunteer at night at one near my house.

good luck!

Okay, I don’t know many union jobs that require you to work 60 hours a week. Usually unions try to work to better the lot of the employee, not worsen it.

The decision, though, ultimately is yours. For right now, it seems as though you are just toying around with the idea of being a doctor, which is okay. Just realize though that when you decide to really pursue it and work on your prereqs, getting ready for MCAT, etc., it is not realistic to think that you can do it while working 60 hours a week.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck working 60 hours a week, then I would think that the timing isn’t right for you right now.

I talked with my prehealth advisor and he said that working in the ER (or someone suggested volunteering at a free clinic) at night and on the weekends is a good idea and I think its best option for me right now.

I am very serious about becoming a doctor but I have to accept my financial situation as well. The union job does not require me to work 60 hours (I don’t think I said or even implied that) just that since it is a union position i cannot adjust my standard 40 hour working week. I work optional overtime hours to pay my bills and tuition costs. Even if I did not work the overtime, I still would have to find a night volunteer position.

Thanks for all the responses everyone.

BTW - it is manageable, at least so far. I have completed all my prereqs and now gearing up to take the MCATs in the next couple of months. I guess how well I do on my MCATs will be the ultimate determining factor if it is manageable, but so far it has been (admittingly, sleep and free time have been lacking in the last couple of years).

Actually you did imply it when you stated that you don’t think you would be able to cut down on your hours…you didn’t mention any number, that is why I mentioned it.

But hey, if you can handle it…all the best to you. I, very much, do understand about having bills to pay, etc. Time will come when you will have to cut your hours all the way if you decide to attend medical school, although considering your schedule and work ethic, you’ll probably not have any difficulty with the long study hours.

Hope it works out with the ER volunteer position…


Another option may be hospice volunteering. Hospice residences need people every day at varying hours and could probably work with yoru schedule. You could also do home respite care for hospice, and caregivers often need that break on the weekends so they can get out of the house and do a little shopping.

The hospital where I work also needs volunteers at night to sit with families of critically ill patients…the ICU and CVICU are always needing volunteers at night. Same with palliative care.

I wonder if there might be off-hours clinics that you may be able to volunteer at, too.

When you are done your MCAT in April, will you have more hours available, or will you still be in school?

I am not sure if I will still be in school as I have not decided whether I will take summer classes or not. Yeah, I think I am going with the overnight volunteer route. My hope is even if I am working, going to school, and volunteering that medical schools see how much I want to go to med school.