Working during medical school

Can any current students comment on working during medical school? I have the opportunity to continue my auditing work from home (wherever that ends up being) and my schedule would be 100% flexible. Right now I’m thinking 10-20 hours per month max, which would give me enough to pay rent, utilities, food (or alternatively to bridge the gap between what I might get for rent on my house vs mortgage payment). I was thinking two 8-hour days each month, or four 4-hour blocks of time. It’s just my husband and I - no children or other responsibilities or any other debt. This may help me decide if I need to defer one year. Thanks!

I’m not a medical student, but I have heard others (current medical students and physicians) post on this forum that working during medical school is not a very good idea. Having some sort of balance - whatever that means for you - is important, I think, and if you’re working, that doesn’t leave much time for anything else, given the rigors of 1st year studies. But as I said, I’m not a med student, so I’ll leave it to others to post their comments.

Hi, Switzerland!

I am a first year student and I have worked throughout. Its the same job I had before I started med school - with much fewer hours. However, I am the only one that I know at my school that is working and pretty much everyone thinks that I am out of mind for even attempting to work. I’ve done fairly well, but I’m not at the top of my class - but I work as a necessity not as a hobby. The job market where we are is lousy and we knew that it would be next to impossible for my husband to find work - so we (me, my husband, our 2 children) live on my financial aid and what I make from working. It really makes a difference in our lifestyle and it gives us the luxury of having my husband at home full time to take care of the kids so I can just focus on school (and occasionally work.

That being said - don’t work unless its a necessity. Working for me usually entails major planning ahead and time management to make sure that everything gets done. So far, I’ve been above the average on every exam - so I don’t think my academic performance has suffered too much. But, I’m also not planning on applying to a super-competitive specialty either - so my pre-clinical grades will not a carry a ton of weight anyway. But - if you are thinking a highly competitive specialty such as derm or orthopedic surgery or ophthalmology - then skip working and focus on academics.

Switz, I think that 16 hours a month is not overwhelming. I did half of my pre-reqs in Buffalo, and knew med students that allowed themselves time to “unwind” frequently.

If you believe that you can manage a few days of the month to get some extra cash, it seems logical that it would not impact your studies that greatly.

Again, I am NOT in school yet, but we as non-trads understand how to manage time efficiently. I think you would be fine with this small amount of time.

16 hours a week, no. 16 hours a month, yes.

Sparing a few hours a week to work wouldn’t be unheard of, I don’t think–because as others have mentioned, med students DO occasionally have an hour or two here and there to unwind.

What you and your husband will have to realize, however, is that using any free time to work may completely eliminate any free time to unwind. You’ll have to really focus on finding ways to relieve stress, relax, etc. that somehow coincide with everything else you’re doing. Just don’t neglect that, or everything tends to suffer!!

It sounds like it could be a very viable solution… if it’s work you already do, you can probably do it on auto-pilot for the most part… and a couple of hours per week wouldn’t stress your brain that much. You may even find the audit work (something you can control and something that’s familiar) to be a nice escape from the science…

That’s just my 2 cents. Like Lorien, I haven’t actually been there yet, so… grain of salt.

Good luck finding a solution! I know it must be a stressful spot to be in…

I think 4 hour blocks are doable. I joined Sigma Sigma Phi which requires some volunteer service in the community and was able to get in a couple of 4 hour stints a month - could probably get 3 in without too much trouble.

I wouldn’t plan on 8 hours at a time because a weekend before a test you are going to need some of those hours. But that sounds doable to me.

If you have difficulty in school, consider borrowing more and dropping it if you have to to excel.


As others have said, it may be doable. I have known a few med students who worked (particularly those who were nurses, RTs or PCAs) who picked up some hours a couple of times month or on breaks. Its going to be tough to say whether it will work for you until you try it and see how much time you need to devote to studying and staying sane. Don’t forget to devote time to your relationship, as well.

On the flip side, I have also known a few people who worked during medical school who regretted it -they wished they had just spent the time relaxing or being with their significant other, because in the long run it did little to relieve their loan burden.

I was a patient tech and worked 4 hours every Fri night though 3rd yr. If I had to do it agn, would have spent my Fiday nights hanging out with my hubby.

As most others have stated, it is doable. I worked my first 2 1/2 years, had to stop once I hit my surgery rotation 3rd year. I worked about 10 hours per week. As somedayDrA did, I got a lot of double takes when people found out I was working. You will be the exception.

Thanks for all the helpful responses. I’ll have to see what happens in the next 2 months.

Good luck, Switzerland! I’ve got my fingers crossed for you that you don’t have to defer a year. I know that would be really frustrating. But I’m sure you will make the situation work, whatever you have to do.