What kind of employment should I seek while trying to complete prerequisites?

Forgive me if there is another thread here with a similar story, but I would appreciate any insights you can provide.

My Background:

I’m 30 years old, married, and have 2 kids who are currently under age 4. I have worked in various non-health office jobs over the last several years, a result of relocating often. I have a bachelor’s in business with an arts minor and a leadership studies minor (2009, 3.23 overall GPA) from a decent, but small liberal arts university. Therefore, I still have all of the medical school prerequisites ahead of me. My goal is to begin medical school in 2021.

Despite being a bright student, medicine was a path that was not at all on my radar in high school and college, seeming both impractical and unattainable. My new-found desire to become a physician grew from the encounters with both primary care providers and specialists that I have experienced in the last few years. I have had the opportunity to interact with several physicians whose enthusiasm for and dedication to their work was contagious.

For me, there’s a hefty academic commitment (prerequisites and MCAT study) and the risk that I won’t be admitted to the one, highly-competitive public medical school in my geographic area. After a recent medical event, I found a renewed resolve to pursue this career, and my reservations no longer seem insurmountable. A number of weeks ago, I was able to ask an experienced specialist (who happens to work daily with resident physicians) about the plausibility of my goals. He made some practical recommendations and offered me encouragement and perspective.

I have a multitude personal of reasons why I believe medicine is a great fit for me. If you are interested, I can share a bit more detail about my background and why I find a career in medicine appealing.

Current plan:

  • Currently retaking General Biology at local community college (Spring 2018)
  • Planning to complete remaining prerequisites at nearby University (top 50 undergrad school, nationally)
  • Beginning to volunteer at the hospital associated with the target medical school in the next few weeks (Hoping to serve in the Emergency Department, but not guaranteed.)
  • Hoping to have a conversation with someone in admissions at the target school sometime this Spring

My dilemma:
Since it will take me several semesters to complete all of those necessary Chemistry classes in succession, I’m looking for some advice on non-prerequisite steps to take between now and applying to medical school. My current full-time employment is an office job in digital marketing with no seniority but some schedule flexibility. I would love to get a head start on gaining healthcare experience (outside of volunteering), but I’m unsure what would make the most sense. Maximizing present income is not a huge priority, but as a parent of young children my time is in short supply. I also do not think I currently have the qualifications or relevant experience that medical scribing, admin, assisting, etc roles would require.

My question:
Would it be worthwhile to seek additional training via an online program such as a “Certified Medical Admin Assistant” course? I am intrigued by the idea of working as a medical scribe while completing my prerequisites, but I don’t know what I can do to make myself an attractive candidate for such a position at this point. Should I even try to get such a job? I would appreciate your suggestions and advice.

Any other comments you have about strategies for making this whole getting-into-medical-school thing work are also welcome.

Thank you for reading, and I appreciate your help!

A lot of people lean toward jobs with a link to health care while they’re doing prereqs. If you have seen some of my other posts, I’m of the mindset that you don’t have to be in healthcare to get a job in healthcare (ie med school), especially if you’re older and already have some sort of qualifications/work history. Getting a job with some exposure to the line of work you’re trying to enter is great. You can also get exposure via volunteering, shadowing, etc. Getting a job that allows you to balance work, life, and prereqs is even better. At this stage in life, especially with kids, the goal should be to show that you can a) multitask despite being pulled in a million different directions, b) have some skills that you have previously used to be successful, whatever those may be, c) have leadership experience or potential, and d) can use your experiences to glean lessons that are applicable to other situations/careers.

Do a job that you feel like you can enjoy as well, because the (joyful) misery of premed and med school is enough as it is. My vote is to lean toward keeping your current job since it offers you some flexibility to do other things.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful perspective! I tried to reply a few days ago, but a glitch of some sort prevented my post from displaying.

Staying in my current job definitely has some significant advantages: some degree of flexibility and perhaps just as importantly, (I forgot to mention) my office is right on the edge of the campus where I would be taking my prereqs starting this Fall.

The big disadvantage that I see in my status quo is I feel like I am learning in the wrong direction with my current work, which is a bit frustrating. Working for an automotive industry marketing developer/start-up has no professional overlap with medicine. I have been looking at the prospect of entry level healthcare jobs because there is greater relevance of skills/knowledge to my future work. However, I can see how having a mundane job (which honestly, could definitely be worse) while studying my tail off for the foreseeable future could make the most sense. Plus, I do already have some leadership, multitasking, and lots of life experience from previous employment.

For now at least, I think it will make the most sense to get in the swing of volunteering and see whether that is providing me with enough exposure to the medical field to help me confirm that it’s where I am meant to be. Shadowing is also on my to-do list, though not in the immediate term.

With no personal experience or family members in the medical field, it is hard to know where my efforts are best spent, so I very much appreciate your insight. Thank you again!


In case you haven’t seen these yet, the AAMC has a list of 15 core competencies that are desirable for incoming medical students. A lot of them are very broadly applicable. I’d be willing to bet that whatever job you’re in right now requires a lot of these skills as it is, and that you’re developing these core competencies without even knowing it.

I would guess that a market developer can meet #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13 and can possibly align with some others with some imagination. I’m not sure what other work/experiences you’ve done. In the end, it’s all about reflecting on what you’ve done, what you’ve learned, and how it has shaped you into becoming a successful future physician.

Further down the line when you’re writing about your experiences (which is actually reflective of a core competency), keep these in mind.

I think you have a good plan going ahead. Feel it out and adapt as necessary (competency 8, by the way).

Thank you for addressing my question on the podcast. I truly appreciate the perspective you provided.