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Working Part-time during your first year


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Hi there, 

I was just wondering how common it is for Med Students to work part-time during their first year (and following years) of school. Is it possible? Is it basically necessary when living in an expensive city? I was a server part-time before Covid shut everything down, and I would really like to keep that job when things open back up. 

Thanks for your input!

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Hi there.

I  was recently accepted to med school  so I don't have personal experience with this. I have asked a few med students about this and they all advised me that trying to work while you are a med student is fairly difficult and not worth it. Some people work during the breaks but most people advised me to just relax and enjoy any time off or prepare for residency matching. Most students take out a large student line of credit and accept that they will be in a lot of debt at the end. I remember one person explained that working part time for a low wage really doesn't put a dent in your debt but after residency you should be able to pay off your debt much easier. I worked all through my undergrad so it is hard to imagine not having a job. I'm planning to look at being a med student as my job and I hope to really enjoy the experience.

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You are entering a professional school which demands full time studies. It is challenging enough without significant distractions or time sinks. I would seriously look at your reason(s) for wanting to continue the part time job. Money? get a line of credit. Amusement? re-assess your priorities. Fulfillment? if you get that as a part time server, then you don't need medical school.

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Working during medical school is a recipe for disaster that you don’t need. This includes during summer which should be strictly for R & R.  Had I worked during med school, it would have been a zero sum gain, as the earnings would have been deducted from my bursary, so I would have ended up with net zero. Sure, I have a huge indebtedness, I consolidated my student loans into my LOC,, and I will have no problem paying it off when I begin my practice. It is just too expensive for you to work, you need to devote that energy to more studying or, if possible, relaxation.

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Unless you can make 40$/hr+ and have very flexible hours, I wouldn't bother working.  Mostly the RNs and Pharmacists in my medical class worked, and wasn't much of an issue for them - but it also helped they had a strong basis in medicine already.   Those of us with some tech/consulting background also worked, but mostly just finishing off projects or odd quick jobs here and there. Was plenty of time in a 4 year program to do a bit of stuff.  Wouldn't recommend it though, as its not financially necessary with LOCs. 

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10 hours ago, ShadesofCyan said:

Hi there.

I  was recently accepted to med school  so I don't have personal experience with this. I have asked a few med students about this and they all advised me that trying to work while you are a med student is fairly difficult and not worth it. Some people work during the breaks but most people advised me to just relax and enjoy any time off or prepare for residency matching. Most students take out a large student line of credit and accept that they will be in a lot of debt at the end. I remember one person explained that working part time for a low wage really doesn't put a dent in your debt but after residency you should be able to pay off your debt much easier. I worked all through my undergrad so it is hard to imagine not having a job. I'm planning to look at being a med student as my job and I hope to really enjoy the experience.

Thanks so much, I really appreciate this view! I loved the part about making a med student your job. I know what you mean about feeling weird not having a job. I worked 3 part time jobs every week throughout undergrad but I know this experience is VERY different :) thanks for the advice! 

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59 minutes ago, Intrepid86 said:

You are entering a professional school which demands full time studies. It is challenging enough without significant distractions or time sinks. I would seriously look at your reason(s) for wanting to continue the part time job. Money? get a line of credit. Amusement? re-assess your priorities. Fulfillment? if you get that as a part time server, then you don't need medical school.

Hi Intrepid86, thanks for your take. All 3 of those are good reasons as to why I would want to keep working. It’s a pretty low level commitment (very flexible hours, short shifts, and good cash). I was just wondering how common it is for med students to work or not work. Thanks!

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54 minutes ago, Bambi said:

Working during medical school is a recipe for disaster that you don’t need. This includes during summer which should be strictly for R & R.  Had I worked during med school, it would have been a zero sum gain, as the earnings would have been deducted from my bursary, so I would have ended up with net zero. Sure, I have a huge indebtedness, I consolidated my student loans into by LOC,, and I will have no problem paying it off when I begin my practice. It is just too expensive for you to work, you need to devote that energy to more studying or, if possible, relaxation.

Hi Bambi, thanks for the advice! I didn’t consider how working would be deducted from the bursary that’s a great note thank you! That was another area I was unsure of is how manageable it is to pay off the debt (LOC and loans) once you start working in residency and eventually your own practice. I’d imagine it takes different amounts of time for everyone’s individual circumstances and career paths, but is it generally quite manageable or is it a 10-15-20 year process of paying it all off? 
Thanks so much! 

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7 minutes ago, JohnGrisham said:

Unless you can make 40$/hr+ and have very flexible hours, I wouldn't bother working.  Mostly the RNs and Pharmacists in my medical class worked, and wasn't much of an issue for them - but it also helped they had a strong basis in medicine already.   Those of us with some tech/consulting background also worked, but mostly just finishing off projects or odd quick jobs here and there. Was plenty of time in a 4 year program to do a bit of stuff.  Wouldn't recommend it though, as its not financially necessary with LOCs. 

Thanks for the advice! The place I worked on average I could make 200-250$ in about 5-6 hours (some days more money some days less) so I was just wondering if that would actually be worth the sacrifice to work once or twice a week to have that extra cash but the general consensus is that the LOC is the better way to go :) also thanks for the advice regarding RNs and other HCPs working! 

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Just now, FingersCrossedPls said:

Thanks for the advice! The place I worked on average I could make 200-250$ in about 5-6 hours (some days more money some days less) so I was just wondering if that would actually be worth the sacrifice to work once or twice a week to have that extra cash but the general consensus is that the LOC is the better way to go :) also thanks for the advice regarding RNs and other HCPs working! 

Not really worth it, since you're probably hustling as a server, and likely would be the busy nights fri/sat - keep those for yourself!   

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25 minutes ago, FingersCrossedPls said:

Hi Bambi, thanks for the advice! I didn’t consider how working would be deducted from the bursary that’s a great note thank you! That was another area I was unsure of is how manageable it is to pay off the debt (LOC and loans) once you start working in residency and eventually your own practice. I’d imagine it takes different amounts of time for everyone’s individual circumstances and career paths, but is it generally quite manageable or is it a 10-15-20 year process of paying it all off? 
Thanks so much! 

You won’t pay it off in residency, afterwards. At least that is my situation. However, it is doable! I am not at the paying it off stage, so I have no clue how long it will actually take,  it will manageable. I expect my gross income in practice to be, at an absolute minimum, $350,000, and if I can manage paying $40,000 yearly, it will be paid off in 5 years and a bit. Otherwise longer, but it certainly does not stress my out. ,Moreover, I was always studying and would not have had the time to work even if I had wanted to. I had to cut out all my ECs. That was my situation anyhow.

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29 minutes ago, Bambi said:

You won’t pay it off in residency, afterwards. At least that is my situation. However, it is doable! I am not at the paying it off stage, so I have no clue how long it will actually take,  it will manageable. I expect my gross income in practice to be, at an absolute minimum, $350,000, and if I can manage paying $40,000 yearly, it will be paid off in 5 years and a bit. Otherwise longer, but it certainly does not stress my out. ,Moreover, I was always studying and would not have had the time to work even if I had wanted to. I had to cut out all my ECs. That was my situation anyhow.

Okay thank you for the general timeline. I think I’m just nervous about the debt. I was able to work all through undergrad (which I know is VERY different and much easier) and so I was able to pay off all my debts and have no student debt coming out of uni, where as this certainly won’t be the case. Coupled with looking for somewhere to live downtown Toronto I think the whole financial aspect of it all has hit me full force haha 

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I’ve had some casual part-time work here and there, mostly administrative stuff and some odd jobs related to my old career. It hasn’t had much affect on my ability to get bursaries, but I think that’s in part because I have a spouse and my so my calculated financial need is higher than the average single student / and in part a result of how UBC does things. 

I probably wouldn’t recommend it though. The money I can make from the small amount of work I can do is a drop in the bucket compared to the debt. Mostly I just did it because I enjoy it. And it was difficult to do much at all once clinical work started. For me the key is that the work I was doing was all stuff I could do at home, and usually with a fair amount of flexibility for delivery dates. If I was really tired one weekend, I didn’t have to necessarily show up and put in the hours. I could just plug away at it for an hour or two here and there in evenings when I couldn’t be bothered to study. Having to book and show up for shifts would be tough.

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56 minutes ago, Bambi said:

You won’t pay it off in residency, afterwards. At least that is my situation. However, it is doable! I am not at the paying it off stage, so I have no clue how long it will actually take,  it will manageable. I expect my gross income in practice to be, at an absolute minimum, $350,000, and if I can manage paying $40,000 yearly, it will be paid off in 5 years and a bit. Otherwise longer, but it certainly does not stress my out. ,Moreover, I was always studying and would not have had the time to work even if I had wanted to. I had to cut out all my ECs. That was my situation anyhow.

Is your expected income specific to your speciality or is that common across specialities? Seems a huge amount (coming from an incoming med student from relatively low socioeconomic background). I also worry about LOC debt

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31 minutes ago, FingersCrossedPls said:

Okay thank you for the general timeline. I think I’m just nervous about the debt. I was able to work all through undergrad (which I know is VERY different and much easier) and so I was able to pay off all my debts and have no student debt coming out of uni, where as this certainly won’t be the case. Coupled with looking for somewhere to live downtown Toronto I think the whole financial aspect of it all has hit me full force haha 


Hey, I hear you. I’m super debt-averse, and starting med school this fall is kind of terrifying for that reason.

I also worked three part-time jobs during my prior undergrad, but I’ve decided that for med school time is my most valuable asset. I have also decided to move within walking distance of my school despite the higher cost compared to my current situation.

The advice I’ve gotten from my friends in residency: don’t worry about the money. Don’t be stupid about it, but don’t stress about it either—it will balance out in the end.

Not one to take such advice at face-value, I have written up a number of budget spreadsheets for the next 15 years, haha, and yes, it will be fine in the end.

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9 hours ago, dh. said:


Hey, I hear you. I’m super debt-averse, and starting med school this fall is kind of terrifying for that reason.

I also worked three part-time jobs during my prior undergrad, but I’ve decided that for med school time is my most valuable asset. I have also decided to move within walking distance of my school despite the higher cost compared to my current situation.

The advice I’ve gotten from my friends in residency: don’t worry about the money. Don’t be stupid about it, but don’t stress about it either—it will balance out in the end.

Not one to take such advice at face-value, I have written up a number of budget spreadsheets for the next 15 years, haha, and yes, it will be fine in the end.

I'm super glad that I'm not alone in this fear. Thanks for understanding and sharing what you've heard. I don't know anyone else in my current situation (though clearly they are out there!) so I really appreciate your input :)

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10 hours ago, frenchpress said:

I’ve had some casual part-time work here and there, mostly administrative stuff and some odd jobs related to my old career. It hasn’t had much affect on my ability to get bursaries, but I think that’s in part because I have a spouse and my so my calculated financial need is higher than the average single student / and in part a result of how UBC does things. 

I probably wouldn’t recommend it though. The money I can make from the small amount of work I can do is a drop in the bucket compared to the debt. Mostly I just did it because I enjoy it. And it was difficult to do much at all once clinical work started. For me the key is that the work I was doing was all stuff I could do at home, and usually with a fair amount of flexibility for delivery dates. If I was really tired one weekend, I didn’t have to necessarily show up and put in the hours. I could just plug away at it for an hour or two here and there in evenings when I couldn’t be bothered to study. Having to book and show up for shifts would be tough.

Yes I agree, shift work and making sure I am always available for these shifts could be really challenging. I'm wondering if once I start to fall into the swing of things at school if then I can make some sort of arrangement with my boss about holidays/long weekends only. It may sound crazy but I also really enjoyed serving, I'm a bit of a social creature that way, so even a few shifts during Christmas (Though I doubt things will be up and running by then) and over the summer may work, or it may not!! But if everything is online first year I will be living at home anyways which will make keeping my job a very attractive option. Thanks for your input and advice! From everything people are saying it seems like it may not be worth it :)

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