The road to becoming a medical doctor isn’t the same for everyone because most don’t have the advantages enjoyed by others whose studies are completely financed by their parents. Some rely on student loans to get through med school, and even then, they still struggle to make ends meet. Making money during med school is an added challenge, but it can be done.
You can make money during med school by tutoring, being a medical research assistant, working as an EMT, driving for Uber and Lyft, and other more conventional gigs like babysitting and bartending. With discipline and proper time management, you can juggle classes, studying, and a part-time job.
The rest of this article discusses in detail the various ways you can make some extra money while studying to be a doctor.
1. Babysitting, Waiting Tables, and Bartending
Let’s kick off our list with the go-to part-time jobs most people looking to make an extra buck would consider. These kinds of jobs require only basic skills. However, don’t go grabbing the first opportunity for this kind of work that comes your way. Be prudent in choosing what jobs to take as it can help you manage your time more efficiently.
Babysitting can be really easy, but it can also be quite challenging, depending on the age and temperament of the child you will be taking care of. If you hope to get some study time after the kids have been put to bed, choose babysitting jobs for older kids you won’t have to chase around the house.
A thoughtfully-chosen babysitting job will help you earn money while giving you time to hit the books once the kids are settled down, like hitting two birds with one stone. This kind of work is also less physically taxing and will leave you with some energy for your classes and study time. However, this isn’t a regular job. You will only be called on to babysit on certain occasions.
Waiting Tables & Bartending
These jobs might pay a little better per hourly rate, but they are also less flexible. Any decision to opt for these jobs should be guided by your coursework or the flexibility of your employer. Some people are lucky to have understanding employers who are okay with them coming in one or two nights a week.
Find out if your prospective employer is amenable to this kind of work arrangement. Also, consider the pace of the place you are applying for work. If it is somewhere that is constantly buzzing with people, you might want to opt for something a little less hectic instead. You don’t want to be obligated to work overtime or feel exhausted by the end of your shift.
2. Tutoring on the Side
As a medical student, the general assumption is that you became one through hard work coupled with brains. No one would question your qualifications to tutor students on how to study for the MCAT. Even medical students pay to get tutored by their fellow medical students. There’s a lot of money to be made from tutoring. You can make up to $100 per hour of tutoring.
The demand for tutors is relatively high if you only know where to look. Advertising your services at schools and libraries is a great way to get your foot in the door. You can also apply to an education company that offers tutoring services. However, the company will act as the middleman, so a share comes out of what you would have earned if you worked directly with clients.
3. Working as a Mobile Phlebotomist
There is a misconception that you would have to be a doctor, registered nurse, or medical technician to draw blood, and it has to be done in a clinical setting. However, that isn’t the case at all. You can apply to be a phlebotomist at the lab of your teaching hospital, or you could opt for one of those mobile phlebotomist jobs with disability insurance companies where you would need to go to the homes of your clients to draw the blood.
There are quite a number of mobile phlebotomy companies that hire independent contractors to do blood extractions at the homes of insurance holders. You can give them your schedule, and they will, in turn, give you a list of patients in the area and their appointments for blood extraction. You have to show up at the appointed time, draw your blood, make the delivery back to the lab, and get paid.
Not only is this a great way to earn money while in medical school, but it also gives you the chance to develop those blood extraction skills. Many would-be doctors actually struggle with this skill because of nerves. Working as a phlebotomist helps you gain confidence in extracting blood.
By the time you start interning, it will be a piece of cake. You might want to go easy on the coffee before appointments, though. You don’t want a shaky hand right before extraction.
Bear in mind that you will need to do a short course in many instances to become a mobile phlebotomist.
4. Working as an Emergency Medical Technician
This way of making money while in med school will require more stamina compared to the other jobs mentioned. On a slow day, you may get to drive an ambulance. However, you could find yourself responding to mass casualties of a vehicular accident or some other tragedy on a more hectic day.
This is an excellent option for those considering a specialty in emergency medicine or trauma. The experiences gained on this job are highly valuable and go toward building skills and amassing knowledge as a future practitioner. Some things learned on this job are obscure or nowhere in the textbooks.
As I mentioned earlier, this job will require tapping into your energy stores for whatever you have left after classes, rotations, and studying for exams upon exams. While the hours can be pretty flexible, you may need to adhere to a set schedule. However, the schedule can be built around your classes and rotations in advance.
5. Being a Medical Research Assistant
Medical schools are often part of academic research institutions. So it follows that academic physicians are engaged in research projects for which they usually need help. You can apply as a sole research assistant or be part of a team of research assistants.
If you’re not particularly fond of research work, this may be a step outside your comfort zone. But you know what they say: life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Not only will you get paid, but this job offers you the rare opportunity of learning something that could potentially be groundbreaking before it becomes mainstream knowledge.
Depending on the subject being researched, hours could be flexible. On the other hand, the job can be quite demanding for bigger projects. Before settling for such a job, find out all you can about the commitment entailed before deciding. If the hours are doable, go for it.
6. Becoming a Plasma, Sperm, or Egg Donor
This is a great way to earn money with minimal effort. Donors get paid around $20 to $50 per donation. By being a plasma donor, you could rake in dollars in the hundreds per month when done bi-weekly. Imagine all that time you save for studying.
For the gentlemen out there, becoming a sperm donor is a great way to earn. As future doctors, your sperm is valued at a premium rate compared to other donors with less academic accomplishments. However, some fertility clinics and sperm banks have a policy that lets you only donate four times to minimize the chances of inadvertent inbreeding between your oblivious offspring a generation or two down the line.
As for the ladies, you could donate your eggs which, being future MD eggs, can earn you the premium, ranging from around $10,000 to $50,000 and upwards. However, as a medical student, you already know that the process of obtaining the donated egg is a lot more invasive than collecting a sperm donation. This decision will take some soul-searching and some courage.
7. Driving for Uber, Lyft, or GrubHub
For those in med school with cars, lucky you. You can leverage your ride to earn some money on the side. Driving for companies like Uber, Lyft, or GrubHub allows you to earn money in your free time, even if only for an hour or two a day–or night. You have complete control of your schedule, and it’s entirely up to you when you want to work.
As an added perk of this job, you get to familiarize yourself with the streets of your city or your locality. For extroverts, it’s a great way to meet new people and interact with them. For introverts, it’s an excellent way to become more comfortable with social interactions outside your inner circle. It can be quite an enriching experience.
8. Property Managing/Housesitting
A job like this takes connections or a lot of legwork going around asking who might happen to need a property manager or housesitter. But with a stroke of luck, anyone who happens to land such a job could potentially live rent-free and get paid for highly flexible work.
As a property manager, you will need to attend to the occasional complaint about a busted lightbulb or a clogged sink. You will also have to collect rent from occupants of the property. Still, there is no set schedule you will need to follow.
A job like this is a jackpot for any medical student looking to make or save money. It definitely enables financial minimalism, a principle many students need to master on their journey to becoming medical doctors. For more about financial minimalism, check out this article.
9. Doing Work-Study Jobs
Options that might be familiar to some medical students are work-study jobs or campus employment. Some medical schools offer positions that allow you to study while on the clock. For example, working at the campus library lets you hit the books with the occasional interruption of helping people with book returns. Sounds like a great deal.
Other jobs like this include manning the front desk of an activity center. This can get pretty busy during certain hours of the day, but there are also lulls in the pace that allow you to pop open a textbook and do some catching up on your studies. This job also won’t leave you exhausted by the end of your shift.
And if you’re tech-savvy, you can manage the camera and audio at the back of the room during campus lectures—pretty minimal work. So you literally get paid to sit in class–and if you’re really lucky, they are classes relevant to your coursework. And even if they aren’t, you get to learn something new.
10. Participating in Research Work or Becoming a Standardized Patient
If your school has other healthcare professional programs, you can apply to be a standardized patient. You will need to seek this opportunity outside of any programs you might be enrolled in because you wouldn’t be allowed to be a standardized patient in any program you are a part of.
You’ll have to be willing to have a full set of eyes on you as you will be used for demonstration purposes. Expect to be palpated, auscultated, or any other form of non-invasive assessment. An alternative is to participate in research. Be aware, however, that colleges usually have strict policies against participating in medical trials.
There are several ways to make money while in medical school. You just have to find the right fit. Earning extra cash on the side can really go a long way in making ends meet. It also ensures that you have a budget for emergencies. Be warned that juggling a part-time job with your studies takes dedication, discipline, and time management. But the rewards years down the road are ultimately worth it.