6 of the Best Jobs Before Medical School

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 5, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In your application for medical school, it's beneficial to demonstrate your academic credentials and clinical expertise. Having a job before medical school can allow you to gain practical experience in the healthcare field. As you consider jobs before medical school, it's helpful to know the different options and their salaries. In this article, we cover the benefits of having a job before medical school and six healthcare positions that can help you develop crucial skills before joining a medical school program.

Related: Applying To Medical School: Tips and Requirements

Benefits of having a job before medical school

Working in healthcare before you apply to medical school can show you what this field has to offer. You can determine if treating patients or conducting medical research are the right occupations for you, which can help you decide if you want to commit to medical school. Other benefits of working before medical school include:

  • Shadowing experienced healthcare professionals: You can observe how physicians interact, diagnose and treat their patients. You can also ask questions about the physicians' experiences and receive advice for how to perform well in medical school.

  • Gaining clinical experience: After you finish medical school, you may encounter employers who prefer candidates with clinical experience. Previous experience in healthcare may also strengthen your candidacy when you apply for medical school.

  • Strengthening your skills: By working in healthcare facilities, you can learn medical terminology and the use of medical instruments and procedures. You can practice addressing the needs of patients, building your verbal communication skills. You may also have opportunities to practice technical abilities, such as drawing blood or checking blood pressure.

  • Helping you decide your specialty: Your job before medical school can help you decide the medical career you want to pursue after you graduate. For example, if you work in the surgical ward of a hospital, you may choose to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Related: How To Prepare for Medical School Interview Questions (With Examples)

Best jobs before medical school

Here are six jobs in the healthcare industry that you can pursue before applying for medical school:

1. Caregiver

Average salary: $29,671 per year

Primary duties: A caregiver is a healthcare professional who assists senior citizens or people with disabilities with everyday tasks. They record their patients' daily water and food intake and administer their medications. They also communicate their patients' well-being to families and physicians.

Related: Learn About Being a Caregiver

2. Medical scribe

Average salary: $31,981 per year

Primary duties: Medical scribes shadow physicians and document their interactions with the patients. They note tests that the doctors want to perform, and they inform the doctors when the results become available. They also update the patients' medical records through an online portal, and they train new medical scribes.

Related: Learn About Being a Medical Scribe

3. Certified nursing assistant (CNA)

Average salary: $34,892 per year

Primary duties: A CNA participates in the diagnosis and treatment process for patients in healthcare facilities. To monitor patients' well-being, a CNA checks the patients' vitals, which includes blood pressure and temperature. They also assist patients with hygienic habits and deliver their meals. Becoming a CNA requires a clinical training process that can take up to 12 weeks, but exact requirements vary by state.

Related: Learn About Being a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant)

4. Medical assistant

Average salary: $36,671 per year

Primary duties: A medical assistant serves as an administrator in a healthcare facility. To improve patient care, medical assistants organize patient paperwork, such as discharge papers and registration forms, and they collect blood and other samples from patients for testing. Medical assistants can work in hospitals or physicians' offices.

Related: Learn About Being a Medical Assistant

5. Emergency medical technician (EMT)

Average salary: $42,664 per year

Primary duties: An EMT performs urgent medical procedures on patients. When an emergency occurs, the EMT responds to the dispatcher and goes to the scene of the emergency, where they use noninvasive techniques to minimize patient injuries and transport them to a hospital safely. Technicians work in teams, where one or two EMTs tend to the patient and the other operates the ambulance.

6. Clinical researcher

Average salary: $69,739 per year

Primary duties: Clinical research coordinators work at medical research facilities to organize clinical trials. They distribute questionnaires to trial participants and analyze the results. They also inform participants of the purpose of the trial and how it will proceed.

Tips to prepare for medical school

Before you attend medical school, consider the following tips to help you prepare:

Find a mentor

A mentor can guide you through the application process for medical school and help you fulfill the graduation requirements. Consider connecting with people in your network, such as your former college professors or supervisors from your healthcare jobs, and ask them if they'd be willing to mentor you. You can receive guidance on:

  • Your skill set: A mentor can assess your abilities to determine which areas you excel in and the areas where you need to improve.

  • Your job search: Once you graduate from medical school, you can work with your mentor to learn about building your resume and the healthcare facilities where you can search for employment opportunities. A mentor may also offer tips on how to communicate your skills and experience in job interviews.

  • Your study habits: By connecting with a professional who's attended medical school, you can receive recommendations on how to navigate your coursework and other requirements.

Volunteer in the community

Volunteering at healthcare facilities or helping people in need can help strengthen your application for medical school. For instance, you might volunteer at a nursing facility, where you can learn how to communicate with patients. When you apply to medical school, this experience can help you better explain what motivates you to become a physician.

Conduct medical research

Conducting medical research gives you opportunities to make discoveries in the clinical field. It can also show that you're disciplined and organized. You can enhance these abilities by collecting data and reviewing academic journals—skills you will likely need in medical school. Consider volunteering at a research lab to gain experience that you can describe in your medical school application.

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