I was looking into paid clinical experiences for my future gap years, and I was wondering if anyone had any general advice to offer. I know some common paid clinical jobs are CNA, Phlebotomist, and EMT. Does anyone have experience with these jobs? Does anyone have a good certification program in mind? Are there are other paid clinical experiences that you’d recommend?
Of course, I’m looking into this on my own, so I’m not asking for a comprehensive guide about paid clinical experiences. Just wanted to hear about any personal experiences/advice 🙂
To get more information about some paid clinical experiences, check out one of our blog posts here about what to do during your gap year! Here, we provide a few resources that can get you more information on specific jobs.
I can offer some advice based on my experience working in a clinical setting, which is a little unorthodox. Last summer, I worked as a clinical intern at a federally qualified health center in my hometown that serves primarily the low-income population in the area. Some of my tasks consisted of administrative things, like data tracking, scheduling overdue patients, organizing spaces at the clinic, etc. I was able to get some clinical experience, though, which I had to make known to my employer, as it wasn’t their initial intent to provide a lot of time for me to spend directly with patients. I ended up spending a lot of time sitting in the waiting room at the clinic, asking patients if they were familiar with the online patient portal that the clinic used, and getting them set up if they wanted to. I also established a blood pressure monitor “library” system, allowing patients to rent out monitors to bring home for a few weeks, and worked closely with providers at the clinic to get that going.
I have a few points of advice based on my experiences. 1) Do your research! I spent hours searching online for any clinically related jobs I could get in my hometown for the summer, and it wasn’t until I was almost ready to give up that I stumbled across this clinic whose mission was very personal for me. Make sure you absolutely exhaust all the resources you possibly can before settling for something that doesn’t align with your goals. 2) Make your goals known to your employer! Had I not told my supervisors that I was interested in gaining direct clinical experience, I likely would not have been able to do what I did. Make sure you’re direct and clear from the start what your expectations are so your employer can help you as best they can to achieve your goals. 3) Most importantly, consider what your goals are as a person. It will be obvious to a medical school admissions committee if you “check off another box” by gaining a random paid clinical position. Take some time to reflect on your path to medicine and your story, what your passions are, and use that to guide you to some kind of experience. If you’re passionate about caring for the elderly, find work at a hospice center! If you want to help underserved populations, find a clinic who incorporates that into their mission. No matter what, find work that you know you can be passionate about.
Please don’t hesitate to follow up if you’d like any more advice,
Owen, PMH Co-President
To provide an alternative perspective, I thought I’d add to Owen’s wonderful answer to your question! For my gap year, I’ll be working as a Patient Care Technician. This was something I’ve been planning to do since the summer after my junior year. After taking my MCAT, I registered for a 2 week CNA Course near my hometown (the length of courses can vary depending on the program you register for). Then, I took my state certification test in early March (fortunately before the COVID-19 lockdown went into order). Since then, I just started applying to a few different positions (both CNA and PCT) until I found a great fit for me!
Since I’m preparing to apply in this upcoming cycle, I’m currently working part-time which leaves me more than enough time to write my personal statement, gather all my documents/LORs, and ensure my application is in top shape before submission at the end of May. It also leaves me some time to do secondaries in July/August, after which I plan to move to a full-time schedule.
If you’re looking for a position with a lot of really valuable direct patient care experience, I’d really recommend looking into CNA/PCT jobs at assisted living facilities or hospitals! Some positions don’t even require CNA certification and train on the job! I’d recommend looking at a few job descriptions around Ann Arbor or near your hometown to see if this is something of interest to you! Personally, I’ve found this position to be really rewarding in the short time that I’ve been working, and look forward to gaining additional healthcare experience in a hospital setting.
Let me know if you have any more questions, and good luck!