Premed 101: To Work or Not to Work?

I’m often asked by premed students whether it’s a good idea to work a job during the schooling process.  Though it does depend on the specifics of your situation, the answer is generally yes.  Not full time, of course, because there is simply not enough time in the week to handle your academic and extracurricular requirements in addition to working 40 hours at a job.  But part time work can be helpful for a variety of reasons.  Working a part time job is great opportunity to develop leadership skills that will benefit you later in your career—and working can also be a great change of pace and can even make you a more attractive candidate to medical schools.  Below is a brief examination of the benefits that a part time job can have for a premed student.

1)     An opportunity to develop leadership and management skills. As a doctor, you’re likely to be in the position of running your own practice at some point in your career.  The ability to successfully run a business isn’t stressed in medical school, so the management skills you develop while working can be a tremendous benefit down the road.  And even if you never own your own practice, you’ll often be in a position that demands leadership and decision making skills.  Get a head start on developing these skills!

2)     Change of pace. As a premed student, most of your week is spent studying, taking tests, volunteering, or prepping for the med school admission process.  Working a part time job, especially if it’s not directly related to the medical field, can be a great opportunity to clear your mind and recharge your batteries.  Think of each shift spent at work as a mini-vacation from the stressful world of premed training.

3)     Increased appeal to med schools. As you know, medical schools will evaluate your application based on a wide variety of factors.  These factors include academics, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and more.  But medical schools are also interested in well-rounded personalities—and having a part time job is a strong sign that you are engaged in the “real world”—that you’re not just stuck in some sort of medical la-la land.  In addition, medical schools will be very impressed by the ability to work a part time job and still manage other responsibilities—they know that a student who can balance a large amount of obligations will stand a great chance of surviving the stress and competing demands of med school.

Some students simply don’t have a choice when it comes to working during premed school.  Finances and life situations may dictate those choices for them.  But even if you don’t “have” to work during your premed years, there are many reasons to consider doing so.  Working will help you develop essential leadership skills that will serve you well later in your career, can be a great opportunity to step away from the pressures of school, and will impress medical schools that are looking for well rounded individuals.

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