Working during school

I’m sure someone has addressed this before (if you could direct me to the thread, I’d appreciate it!)but I’m wondering what people are doing for income during med school?
I’m employed full-time now and am scared to death by the prospect of not working (I worked to support myself throuout my undergrad years!) during medical school. From what I’ve read people feel it’s important to devote as much time as possible to studies, but as all of you can relate – I’ve got debt now! Not just the school loans which I know will go into deferrment, but CCs and the like. How are people planning for this? I really don’t have family that can help with money, so I’m sort of stumped. I know that I would be able to get loans for classes/living expenses, but I doubt they would cover anything else.
Any thoughts?

Your concerns are valid. But before you make any conclusions about loans (or money in general) have you talked to your school about aid? At least then any decision you make will be a learned one. Maybe you can work part time? That’s what most students do. I myself have a job interview tomorrow.
Whatever you do, at least file a FAFSA. Even if you end up not needing it. There is money for post-bacs. The deadline is fast approaching for the coming year. Apply by June 30.

Thank you for the feedback!
I’m just starting the application process so I haven’t really talked to any schools yet… I know I shouldn’t get myself too worked up over this since I haven’t even submitted my applications yet, but I’m just trying to consider all of the aspects of such a big change. (I guess this is the next thing that starts gnawing on your brain once the MCATs and pre-reqs are over!) I’m pretty much doing this whole thing on my own, so I just want to try and avoid falling on my face (financially anyway) as much as possible… I’ve already started trying to make a dent in my credit cards, but I don’t know if it will be enough by fall of next year (assuming I get into school somewhere!!).
Keep those fingers crossed! Fing!

Med school is one of the few educational venues where you CAN borrow for living expenses - in fact you are expected to, because it is not reasonable to work while in med school. As part of the interview process you’ll hear presentations from financial aid people and they’ll go into more detail about this… I won’t go into the whole thing here, but the key fact is that schools will prepare a “student budget” and you will be able to borrow for tuition, fees, and the amount in the student budget which includes books, rent & utilities, food, clothing, etc. It’s not a champagne budget by any means but it is a starting point. often you can negotiate to borrow more than the specified “student budget” if you have particular considerations such as a family. Hope that helps.

Oh wise Mary,
Working during classtime during med school is infeasible, but how about summer jobs? Are these still an option for those hoping to borrow less?

In most schools you only get one summer, the one between first and second years. After second year, you take Step I and then head straight into third year rotations. I held a part-time job as a tech in the PACU (16 hours per month) during my first two years. In retrospect, I’m not sure if the extra $160/month was worth it. While it was a great social outlet for me (I had worked there full-time during my glide year), I could have spent that time studying or with my husband. If given a chance to do it again, I would have taken that time for myself. The volume and intensity of work in med school is more than you can imagine.
Good luck,

The amount you would save yourself from borrowing by working during the summer is NOT worth the effort. You will need the time off to prepare for round two. I’m not a medical student yet but have 4 friends in school and can say that anyone thinking of working during school or at the breaks has not been thru school. It’s just not likely.
The 2 that I know who did were PA’s and therefore years 1 & 2 were not that intense for them as they saw some of the material previously.

Question: do your PA friends totally regret working during med school? Did their work create unanticipated difficulties? My plan was to work weekends as an RN while in med school.

They enjoyed it. The problem they had was that medical school courses did not count as CME credits!!! Yeah, same thing I said. They both were ER PA’s so they had “easy” parttime jobs. Didn’t interfere with school. They would have preferred not to work but wanted to keep money coming in for their families…braces, food…things like that.


My plan was to work weekends as an RN while in med school.

Anita, it is highly unlikely that you’ll be able to do this. As Tara has said, the pace and volume of medical school studies is not something you can imagine until you’re there. When you are NOT studying on the weekend, you are going to need to be doing something relaxing. Scheduling yourself wall-to-wall is counterproductive.
I did have an RN colleague in school who worked over winter break and the summer between first and second year. I know Natalie Belle worked some breaks as a respiratory therapist - she could pick up serious $$ by doing on-call shifts. And so if you can leave your options open and not get tied into a regular schedule, you MIGHT be able to do occasional shifts as an RN. But not every or most or even regular weekends IMHO.
Schools vary widely in the span of that first-year summer break. Mine was ~June 1 - August 25, pretty nice. I’ve known lots of people who got eight weeks off or less. If you could pick up some work during whatever summer break your school gives you before 2d year, sure, why not? Make SURE you take some time off before starting back to class, though - second year is a killer and you need to rest up before starting.
Something else to think about for that one summer: research or other medical opportunities. Your school will usually give you lots of information about this, but you can also search it out on your own. Depending on what you MIGHT like to go into, these opportunities can be extremely valuable when you start applying for residency positions.
Bottom line: most people don’t earn any money during med school, and it turns out okay. I know it sounds unbelievable because it’s a completely different model of school than most of us are used to thinking about. But it IS different - med school is pretty time- and life-consuming.

You make perfect sense. And, to be quite honest, I would prefer not to work so that I could focus on studies and research. But to avoid working in med school, I will need to do some SERIOUS debt reduction in a hurry…

Hi there,

When I was in medical school, I worked as a contract RT at the following times. The weekend immediately after exams and during holidays. I didn’t have children so it didn’t matter that I was working on Christmas or Thanksgiving. I did make great money but I didn’t even consider working at any other time. The extra money was great but medical school is not like anything else. If you are so strapped for cash that you NEED to work, you should borrow more money or cut back on your living expenses.

You need to have a very simple life during medical school. If you have a huge amount of credit card debt, pay it off right now while you have a job. Any money that you are able to make on an occasional weekend or holiday should be considered extra. I did work after I graduated from medical school and before I started my residency. That was free time and I used it.

I had a paid summer fellowship the summer between my second and third year. I did not do any RT at that time. I did not work at all during third year and as I said above, I worked after I graduated. The money came in handy for moving.

You could possible work the summer between your first and second year but if you want to get into a competitive residency, you had better do some research. I would not have gotten into UVA surgery or CC without my research/fellowship experience so consider that.


Hi, All the advice here seems to be the same as elsewhere.
Borrow living expenses and concentrate on med school. It would be very hard to work full or even part time and do very well.
It would add a lot of stress. My wife will work while I’m in so we will borrow for school and some expenses as well as her contribution. Good luck. Bill.