Medical School / Money

Can you have a job while you study medicine?

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I’ve worked a job every year that I have been studying medicine. I got my first job at university in the same month that I started at King’s, as I found that I just wanted to spend more than I reasonably could relying on student finance alone. I also really don’t like the idea of relying on a large lump sum of money every 3 or 4 months, I’m definitely someone that needs to see money coming into my account regularly.

I’ve worked in several different jobs over the past 5 years, moving on when either I got bored, I felt I should be earning more, or a better opportunity showed up. I have also ended up deliberately having periods when I am not having to work a job, such as around exam times.

What jobs can a medical student do?

There are loads of jobs available to medical students, as long as you can find the time to do them. Your studies should always be your priority, and if you find yourself in financial hardship contact your university or the Royal Benevolent Medical Fund.

Working in hospitality is a great way to start earning some steady money, you can usually earn around £10.00 per hour and they are often pretty flexible on hours. Retail is another option with similar earning potential, but the hours are often stricter. I’ve never worked in retail myself but many of my classmates have. Both offer similar wages and allow you to switch off your studying brain for a few hours while on shift, something I found really useful.

The best money that I’ve found is in tutoring and teaching. Although it is significantly more work than hospitality or retail in terms of the effort you need to put into your preparation for lessons, the hourly rates can be up to four-times as much. Online tutoring websites like MyTutor are a great place to start, they offer pretty good rates and great flexibility. MyTutor also has school classes that run weekly at the same time, so you have a guaranteed income each week. These tutoring firms do take a cut of what your students pay for the lesson though, so you will earn more doing private lessons. However, it can be a real struggle to find people to teach privately, and MyTutor has great resources to help you to find clients on the site. Plus, they have some great learning resources for people new to tutoring which will really help you to create great lessons and have happy customers.

MyTutor have a referral programme, so by signing up to teach via my link in this post you’ll be supporting me. The process is exactly the same when signing up with or without a referral, but I would be very grateful if you used my link!

I currently work for a company that teaches science to primary school children though private classes, afterschool clubs, weekend clubs and holiday camps. I’ve really loved doing this, the pay is great, and the company handles all of the advertising and promoting to get kids into my classes. I can definitely see myself teaching in the same way for the duration of my studies.

What jobs have I worked while studying?

So, here are my top jobs for medical students (that I’ve done). It’s clearly a subjective topic, but these are the jobs that have stood out the most for me.

No. 4 – Bar staff at a pub chain

This was the first job I had while I was at university. I walked around London Bridge, where I lived and studied in my first year, and handed my CV into all the bars and pubs I found. At the time there was a branch of a large pub chain on the corner of Borough Highstreet. I walked in and handed my CV to the manager, who took me straight over to a table and gave me an on-the-spot 5-minute interview. I came in for a trial shift the next day, and the day after that started my first paid shift!

I actually quite like working behind the bar, the shifts tend to fly by when you are busy, and you tend to get fairly good tips.

However, I was only earning around £5.20 per hour because I was under 21… Also, the pubs in London Bridge are extremely busy on Friday and Saturday nights, so the majority of my shifts where on these evenings, often not finishing until 3am. When it got around to January, and my first exams at medical school, I decided that this job wasn’t for me anymore. Spending my time in the library was worth a lot more than the £5.20 on offer.

No. 3 – Barista at a local coffee shop

I trained to be a barista when I was living in Australia and having the Australian Barista qualifications on your CV really stands out to London coffee shops. When a new branch opened a 2-minute walk from my house I decided I had to take the opportunity to shorten my commute and do some early morning shifts. I loved working in the morning on the weekends, as I would finish around lunchtime, have earnt a whole shift’s wage, and still have a whole day ahead of me. Plus, when your commute is less than a couple minutes, you can get up about 5 minutes before you start working! (Especially when your first job is to dial in the espresso)

The pay was decent for the work, around £10.00 per hour plus tips, but never getting a lie in gets old pretty fast.

No. 2 – Barman, Barista and Supervisor

Over my first summer at medical school I decided it would be smart to work as much as possible, to earn up a bit of extra money for the coming academic year. I ended up getting a job working as a barman in a very small bar on the Southbank.

I ended up working here for 2 years in various capacities. I took on more responsibility after my first year as well, which meant more hours and a little more pay too.

It was really great fun working here, the people around me were amazing, the atmosphere was great, there were as many hours as I wanted to work. The only real downsides were the location and that the bar often stayed open until 3am, which meant getting a cab home at around 3.30 in the morning.

The upside was also that I was based at St Thomas’s hospital for Year 2, which was only about 5 minutes away, and the Waterloo campus library was even closer. I probably doubled my salary with free coffees when I wasn’t working!

No. 1 – Science Tutoring and Teaching

This has been by far the most rewarding and interesting job I have held at medical school. I teach classes of primary school-aged children science, in groups of 8-15 mostly. In the holidays and half terms, I also help to run science camps with up to 100 kids a day.

The children really keep me on my toes and having to learn a new topic to teach each week is very interesting. My general science trivia has never been so good! The company I work for sets out a topic each week that we teach, and then all the teachers learn about it and teach our classes. I have my own afterschool club each Wednesday and I coteach a science club each Sunday morning.

I really can’t think of any cons for my current role, except that as I progress through medicine I won’t have as much time to teach classes!

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog and read my posts. If you’ve got your own advice on working as a medical student, please do leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about others’ experiences of working while studying. As always, feel free to get in contact with me via the Contact page.

Are you a perspective medical student looking to find out more about the medical school applications process? Have a read of my Admissions posts, where I have tried to demystify how successful medical applicants get into medicine.

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Connor is a medical student at King’s College London. For the 19/20 academic year he is undertaking an intercalated iBSc in Imaging Sciences, also at King’s.

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