7 Premed Gap Year Jobs in 2020 to Get You Accepted

Updated: August 6, 2020


If you're wondering which premed gap year jobs you should pursue, you've come to the right place. Many non traditional medical school applicants see the value of taking a gap year before medical school while some students who faced medical school rejection find themselves unintentionally taking a gap year. Regardless of how you first arrived at a gap year, you must use your time wisely. This blog will provide you with 7 premed gap year jobs that can help you improve your application and increase your chances of acceptance.

Here’s what you’re going to learn:

Pros and Cons of Taking a Gap Year

How to Choose Your Premed Gap Year Jobs

Medical Assistant

Emergency Medical Technician

Research Assistant

Medical Scribe

Certified Nursing Assistant

Community Innovator/Developer

Nonprofits/Humanitarian Aid

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Pros and Cons of Taking a Gap Year

Pros

Taking a gap year can be beneficial in many different ways; you can pay down debt by securing a job, improve your extracurriculars for medical school and medical school application components, including your medical school personal statement, prepare with CASPer sample questions, take a mental break, and most importantly, work towards becoming a more competitive medical school applicant. If you were rejected from medical school or could benefit from a more competitive application, taking a gap year gives you the opportunity to strengthen those areas that are lacking or missing entirely. For example, if you weren’t able to secure a clinical position and your only experience in the medical field is shadowing, this is an area you’ll absolutely want to gain experience in. Possessing significant experience in the clinical field is not only necessary to prove to admissions committees that you’re committed to becoming a doctor, but it’s also a chance for you to explore your interests and really solidify that medicine is the right career path for you.

Many students also decide to take a gap year in order to improve their GPA and MCAT score. Our medical school acceptance rates blog is a great place to check how your statistics compare with those of accepted students at medical schools you wish to attend. If your GPA and MCAT scores don’t meet the average scores of matriculants, this is an area you’ll want to work on during your gap year. Additionally, a gap year can help you gain skills and knowledge in particular fields and you may even discover new interests that can get you thinking about which area of medicine you’d like to pursue. For example, working in a clinic abroad could spark an interest in global public health, or working with children could instill a desire to pursue pediatrics. Of course, admissions committees are not going to look favorably on you taking a gap year to attend the full moon party in Thailand. You will have to prove that you have dedicated your time meaningfully and in pursuit of becoming a physician in order to make your gap year beneficial.

Cons

While gap years are becoming increasingly popular, some students choose to skip the gap year all together because they don’t want to delay the process of becoming a doctor. Adding an extra year on top of 7-12 years necessary to complete your medical education and training can certainly feel daunting. When you’re 22 and your future as a doctor still seems so far away, some are unwilling to stall their career any longer than is necessary. Another consequence of taking a gap year is that it can be disruptive to your studies. Most of us have been in school since we were 4 or 5, so taking an entire year outside of the world of academia can mean your study mindset loses its momentum. Adjusting to full-time studies after taking a gap year can be difficult for some, especially if you didn’t continue studying and reviewing during your gap year.

A final consideration is that filling your gap year appropriately may not be as easy as it seems, especially if you didn’t plan in advance. Many volunteer and employment opportunities are secured months in advance, usually at the beginning of the year for summer start dates. If you didn’t apply to these opportunities early on, you could end up with a literal gap in your application which won't look good to admissions committees. In those cases, you may end up desperate to take any job that provides an income. However, working as a waitress at Olive Garden is not going to prove your continual interest in medicine and your desire for self-improvement. Having said that, not all premed gap year jobs have to be medical related. As long as your experience is significant, helped you grow as a person, and is part of your professional journey to medicine, then it can advantageous.

How to Choose Your Premed Gap Year Jobs

When choosing your premed gap year job, it’s essential to select a position based on your interests, passions, and weak areas in your medical school application. For example, perhaps you struggled filling out your AMCAS work and activities section, medical school secondary essays, or even had a hard time constructing your medical school personal statement – all because you were lacking critical experiences.

It’s not about picking a job that your family and friends think would be great, nor is it about picking a job based on what you think the admissions committees want to see. It can be counterproductive to keep plugging away at something that you’re just not motivated to do because it’s not your strength. Obviously, do not avoid challenges, but know when to work with what you’ve got. Remember, this time is about self-development which holds a different meaning for every individual. Admissions committees will want to understand why you do the things you do and why you find them significant.

Overall, it’s important to pick what you want to do and what will benefit your individual application the most. Now, I’m not saying that you should become a bartender because you like mixing drinks, I’m talking about picking an experience that you want to do that will help you in your journey towards medicine. Think about the following questions: Is your application missing critical experiences? Are you lacking strong letters of recommendation? Are you missing research experience? Have you satisfied all medical school requirements? Next, you need to think about where your interests and motivations lie. What do you enjoy doing? What are you good at doing? What will help you achieve your short and long-term goals? What will help you become a better person and a better doctor?

When considering which environment you should choose for your premed job, it’s important to think about what type of patient population you hope to work with in the future. For example, if you have an interest in geriatrics, then consider working or volunteering in a nursing home, hospice or palliative care center. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in emergency medicine, then working in the back of an ambulance or in the emergency department is most suitable.

So, if you're hoping to improve your application, here are the 7 best premed gap year jobs to increase your chances of acceptance to medical school.

1. Medical Assistant

Medical assistants are trained to assist physicians with both administrative and clinical tasks. Essentially, they work to make doctors’ lives easier by handling administrative tasks, preparing patients for examination, scheduling appointments, arranging basic tests, drawing blood, and overseeing patient records. Medical assistants often work in offices, clinics, and hospitals and have the benefit of interacting with both patients and doctors. While not all employers expect medical assistants to be certified, many do, and if not required, certified medical assistants are often preferred. Certification is available through the CMA American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) which requires the completion of an accredited post-secondary medical assistant program as well as the CMA AAMA Certification Exam. On average, it takes between nine months to two years to become a medical assistant. Jobs that do not require certification may have lower patient interaction and less varied responsibilities or may require certification at a later date.

How to get the job:

You can find listings for these positions on job sites as well as on hospital and clinic websites.

Potential employers:

-Physician offices

-Hospitals

-Outpatients clinics

-Medical research centers

-Universities

2. Emergency Medical Technician

Becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) is a rewarding experience that allows you to gain hands-on experience as a healthcare provider. You’ll be part of the emergency team responding to 911 calls, which means you’ll have the opportunity to perform medical exams and respond to a variety of calls from minor complaints, such as sprains and bruises, to life-threatening issues such as cardiac arrests or serious wounds. A unique benefit of working as an EMT is that you’ll have the chance to interact with other health professions including firefighters, police officers, nurses, and physicians. You’ll also gain skills necessary to become an effective physician such as collaboration, stress tolerance, and the ability to work effectively under pressure. There are different levels of qualification in order to become an EMT. The Basic EMT (EMT-B) is an entry-level position that typically requires between one to four months of training. The next level is the Intermediate or Enhanced EMT (EMT-I) which requires basic EMT training in addition to field experience. The most advanced EMT is the Paramedic (EMT-P) which requires a significant amount of experience in the field, along with at least 700 hours of training. It’s important to note that becoming an EMT can be quite expensive, usually between $500-$1000 to become a basic EMT, and this doesn’t include the certification or testing costs. However, some employers or universities will cover the cost if you arrange to work or volunteer with them after your training.

How to get the job:

 A basic EMT position requires you to do a course beforehand which takes at least 154 hours. Colleges are a great way to get volunteer experience as an EMT and you could also find a job through your local EMT organization. If you are interested in becoming a fully qualified paramedic, you’d need 700 hours of training under your belt and a significant amount of experience. If it’s something you love and have the time to do it, then it’s going to look great on your application.

Potential employers:

-Local EMT organizations

-Fire departments

-National parks

-Private ambulatory services

3. Research Assistant

A recent survey by the AAMC found that 46.1% of medical school applicants spent their gap year in a job in research. Unlike clinical experience, which every applicant will have, not all applicants have research experience. Other than improving your knowledge in a particular field and testing hypotheses, research experience can help set you apart from other candidates. Research experience shows admissions committees that you have a curiosity for the unknown and are determined to understand the mechanisms behind disease or the answers to problems. This will, of course, translate into medicine when it comes to discoveries and finding treatments and cures for illnesses and diseases. In addition, if you’re lucky enough to contribute to one or two published works, this can also help boost your admissions odds, as not all candidates have this type of experience. While research is not generally required at most medical schools, many schools highly value research experience and some schools are heavily research-based, so working as a research assistant can be extremely beneficial. As a quick note, if you’re applying to joint MD-PhD programs, research experience is an absolute must.

How to get the job: 

The best way to get a research position is by networking. Make sure you make connections in college with your professors, academic advisors, and career counselors. In addition, try researching hospitals and universities in your area and see if they need any lab technician or assistant positions. Normally, they’ll have job postings listed on their websites, but it doesn’t hurt to email to inquire. Lastly, there are many summer research internship programs at universities, institutes, and hospitals.

Potential employers:

-Local universities and hospitals

-Graduate Research, Education, and Training (GREAT) Group (US)

-National Institute of Health, Clinical Center, Bioethics Fellow (US)

-Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Canada)

-Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Canada)

4. Medical Scribe

Medical scribes are valuable individuals responsible for taking notes during physician-patient interviews, documenting physician dictated notes, keeping track of lab records, and maintaining patient records. As a scribe, you’ll have the opportunity to learn medical terminology, how to chart, and to see how healthcare is practiced in the flesh. You don’t generally need any experience beforehand to become a medical scribe as there is full training provided by your employer once hired. Another benefit of working as a medical scribe is that you’ll be working directly with a physician which will serve as a great opportunity to form strong connections and secure valuable letters of recommendation.

How to get the job:

 As previously stated, there are no official credentials necessary for this job but it helps to have some volunteering under your belt, memberships in organizations, and generally be able to demonstrate an understanding of the medical field. You’ll find jobs offered at hospitals, emergency rooms, and other medical facilities.

Potential employers:

-Elite Medical Scribes (US)

-Scribe America

-Medical Scribes of Canada

-Local hospitals and clinics

5. Certified Nursing Assistant

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a great position to consider which will allow you to work in a clinical setting and gain hands-on experience. You’ll work under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse to help patients with daily activities such as bathing and feeding. In addition, you'll attend to other duties to assist nurses such as helping with medical procedures and cleaning rooms. Nursing assistants are most often found in long term care facilities and rehabilitation centers but they can also work in inpatient hospital settings. Working as a nursing assistant allows for patient interaction and the development of a variety of desirable skills such as communication, empathy, and compassion. Nursing assistants often have flexibility in their schedules which may allow you to pursue classes or other extracurricular activities at the same time. It’s important to note that the certification of nursing assistants is not standardized. Instead, certification is issued by state after the completion of a training program, usually between 1-3 months, and a state certification exam.

How to get the job:

It’s necessary to complete a training program approved by the state in order to become a certified nursing assistant. These programs are available through the Red Cross, hospitals, as well as colleges and other educational settings.

Potential employers:

-Nursing care facilities

-Hospitals

-Assisted living facilities

-Hospices

6. Community Innovator/Developer

For your pre-med checklist, you should have a certain amount of clinical, volunteer, and research experiences. Participating in positions that allow you to take on leadership roles, however, is a way to stand out from other candidates. One way to do this is to identify a specific deficit in your community and come up with an innovative solution to help fix it. For example, if you were working in an assisted living center, you could set up your own wellness program such as art workshops, or even exercise classes. Your project could be anything as long as it is meaningful to you and helps to improve the lives of members of your community. This will ultimately do wonders for contributing to your pre-med school identity by showing that you can solve problems, and make a positive, selfless change in your community.

How to get the job:

 First, identify a problem you want to solve, or a program you want to improve. Second, brainstorm the resources needed and pitch your idea. Third, secure a position in the place you wish to help and begin your project.

Your project could take place in a variety of settings such as in an assisted living center, a community center, or even at a blood bank. Think about what is important to you and what you believe you can improve or change within your community. For example, if you’re passionate about helping vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals, perhaps your project can address the fact that there are no overnight facilities for homeless individuals in your community.

Potential employers:

-Assisted living center

-Hospice

-Nursing home

-Mental health and addiction treatment center

-Blood bank

-Orthopedic center

7. Nonprofits/Humanitarian Aid

As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Working with a non-profit organization gives you a chance to break the mold and leave a mark on something that is really begging for a mark to be left. There are so many opportunities out there that you are bound to get a great experience from and will highlight that you are going into medical school for the right reason: To help others. Possible enterprises include fighting poverty, supporting disaster response, and mentoring youth.

How to get the job: 

Normally these positions don’t require experience or training but higher profile organizations will be looking for you to stand out from other applicants, given that they are quite competitive. It doesn’t have to be a well-known program though for you to make a difference. Search for non-profit and community projects in your area and volunteer your time and ideas to make a change.

Potential employers:

-Americorps, FEMACorps (US)

-Partners in Health Internships (US)

-Take the Fight (US)

-Volunteer Canada

-World Vision Canada

-Charity Focus (Canada)

-Local organizations

Check out our video for a recap on the 7 best premed jobs:

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Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting