Last updated: September 1, 2021
You are livin’ the dream! You have just completed your first year of medical school. Summer is looming ahead, and a part-time job flipping hamburgers or spreading mulch no longer seems adequate. Whether your goal is to make some much-needed cash, to gain some much-needed experience, or both, we have some great ideas for summer jobs.
Few summer jobs will make you rich or even pay the school bills. Still, many look great on a résumé and provide you both experience and the opportunity to evaluate your own interests in medicine.
Perhaps you are the person who would rather cuddle up with a book and a glass of iced tea in a quiet apartment than attend the family reunion and explain to everyone what you are doing with your life. Not all positions in medicine involve patients or even people. A few summer opportunities will allow you to evaluate whether science, rather than the patient interaction, is your passion in medicine.
A research assistant collects data from source documents and enters it into the study sponsor’s data tool. They also compare patient charts with a list of inclusion and exclusion criteria to determine the appropriateness for inclusion in a study.
- Pros: You will have the ability to gain a baseline understanding of human subject research, the opportunity to meet and work with physicians and research coordinators, and an introduction of rules and regulations governing research on human subjects.
- Cons: If social environments are important to you, this is not the job for you. It can be boring and solitary. The pay scale can be disappointing.
Tutor for pre-med students
As a medical student, you have first-person knowledge of what it takes to get accepted into medical school. Your knowledge can be valuable to a student trying to put themselves in a position to apply to medical school.
- Pros include the opportunity to review science basics in preparation for your upcoming second year of medical school. A good biology brush-up never hurt anyone looking at a career in medicine. The hours are flexible. These positions are usually easy to find through your university.
These positions expose you to direct contact with patients and look particularly good on the resume of a medical student. It demonstrates you are excited about the field of medicine. It also displays a willingness to be involved, even at an entry level.
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
Becoming an EMT only requires a 6-week certification course and may provide employment opportunities for each summer while you are in school. In this capacity, you would respond on an ambulance with a paramedic as their assistant. You will evaluate patients and provide basic treatment such as splinting, oxygen therapy, wound dressings, CPR, and other basic interventions.
- Pros include direct patient contact, emergency medical services can be an exciting way to begin your exposure to the medical field. Jobs are plentiful. The work provides an opportunity to interact with patients with multiple complaints in various environments. For example; in one day you may get the opportunity to evaluate and treat a trauma patient, a heart patient, and an overdose.
- ons: Cons include exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The environment can be unsafe at times, depending upon the geographical location. The pay rate is not wonderful.
ECG monitor technician
Working as a monitor technician is a great way to get exposure to the hospital environment and learn a skill that you will utilize throughout both your residency as well as your career. As a monitor technician, you will watch cardiac monitors in emergency departments, telemetry units, or intensive care units for changes in cardiac rhythm. You will not provide direct patient care but will notify direct caregivers (nurses, physicians) of ECG changes so that they can react either urgently, if indicated, or electively with appropriate treatment. Training for this position can be done online. Pacific Medical Training has a course available for ECG technicians. Some facilities will also have the monitor technician obtain 12-Lead ECG tracings. This would give you direct patient interaction.
- Pros: Pros include learning a skill that you will utilize throughout your career. Many medical specialties require that you become familiar with reading cardiac monitors and interpreting ECG rhythms. This is one of the higher-paying positions available. You will be provided with an orientation to the hospital environment, the electronic medical record, and general hospital interactions.
- Cons: Cons include having to work multiple shifts. Scheduling may not be as flexible as some other summer positions. You will need to obtain a skill set to monitor ECG rhythms. These positions may be difficult to find as a summer job, although most hospitals would consider a medical student for a temporary position.
Special needs camp counselor
You will provide care and activities for individuals with special needs, either intellectual or physical. The position provides on-the-job training. As such, there is not a large time investment prior to being hired.
- Pros: This work provides the opportunity to interact with various different types of patients who may or may not be a challenge to you. Because of the direct contact with people of various backgrounds and needs, this position looks good on any medical resume.
- Cons: You may be required to be away from home for long periods of time. The schedule is not flexible and the pay is usually not great.
American Red Cross disaster response
These are both paid and unpaid positions. They range from emergency medical technician positions to volunteers serving food to disaster relief workers.
- Pros: The American Red Cross is a well-known and well-respected organization. Provides exposure to patients and healthcare workers in several environments. Introduces you to emergent situations in a controlled environment.
- Cons: This line of work can be boring if a disaster does not strike. You may find yourself packing a lot of equipment, or worse, doing a lot of paperwork. Unfortunately, disaster responses are not guaranteed.
An assistant in a physician’s office
Most physicians will hire medical students as office staff. While pursuing a career as a medical assistant requires additional training or direct faculty supervision, there are many roles you can work in. Consider working at the front desk or in scheduling.
- Pros: You will be provided the opportunity to observe the day-to-day activities of a physician. You will witness the interaction between patients and medical staff. You will receive an orientation to electronic medical records and rules and regulations such as HIPPA and office requirements.
- Cons: Depending upon the practice your exposure will be limited to patients of a particular type. For example, you will see heart patients only if you are in a cardiology practice. You may have long and inflexible hours.
Emergency room scribe
Physicians can see more patients (and remain in a better mood) if they can spend less time documenting. The scribe follows the physician around and documents the note for them. Basic medical terminology is a must. We provide online training that would prepare you for this position. Summer opportunities are always available through agencies or direct employment from a medical facility.
- Pros: Exposure to multiple types of patients in a hospital environment. Flexible schedule and reasonable wages.
- Cons: You may be required to work off shifts such as midnight or 3–11 pm.
These are only a few ideas on how to spend your free time during the summer. Any position that provides exposure to patients may be beneficial in determining what areas of interest you may have in medicine. Although there are few positions that pay well as entry-level providers, there are rewards beyond the monetary. Any of these positions would enhance a resume, showing interest as well as a willingness to work at an entry-level position to gain experience. It is our hope that this article has helped to provide some ideas for you to explore.