The Best Jobs to Juggle with Medical School

Mar 26, 2024

Written by Dr Jasmine Davis

Jasmine is an intern at Bundaberg Hospital as part of the Queensland Rural Generalist Pathway. She is a graduate of Melbourne University holding a Bachelor of Biomedicine, Master of Public Health, and Doctor of Medicine. She is the current Editor-in-Chief of MedicGuild.

Any university degree requires a lot of juggling, with the need to balance study alongside family commitments, friendships, relationships, self-care, and part time work. For medical and other healthcare students, the contact hours required for the degree can make finding a part time job at times feel like something that there are just not enough hours in the day for. Add on top of this clinical placements that fluctuate in time commitment, and constantly being moved around to different hospitals and clinics, many of us struggle to find a job that is flexible enough, yet still pays a decent wage. I’ve now been at university for 9 years, and over this time I’ve had at least 6 different jobs…. So with this knowledge, and that of my friends, I’ve compiled this list of 8 of the best jobs that are manageable alongside medical school. If you have any other ideas for jobs to add to this list let us know! 

  1. Tutoring 

An obvious, but important one to have on this list is casual or part-time tutoring. The options here are endless, with the ability to tutor primary school, high school, or undergraduate students in topics you’ve excelled at. Being a medical student, tutoring subjects such as biology and chemistry can even at times feel like revision time for your own studies! There are many organisations out there that you can join, or you can start up your own business Just make sure to abide by tax rules, and only take on the number of students you know you can manage in your own busy times, as sometimes your student;s exam period may also coincide with your own! If you’ve done a previous degree, it's worth looking into university tutoring jobs as these can pay very well! 


  1. Phlebotomy 

If you absolutely love doing venepunctures and putting in cannulas, then this is the job for you! Working in a pathology collection centre is a great way to use your clinical skills as a medical student, and get further experience dealing with patients and the healthcare system. For most jobs, you will need to complete a Certificate III in Pathology Collection (HLT37215), but it is worth contacting local collection centres to see what their requirements for a job are, especially if you have already done some time in clinical practice. 


  1. Medical Receptionist 

If you spend more time writing to do lists and organising your calendar than you do studying, then this is the job for you. GP and specialist clinics love having medical students as receptionists because they know that you are going to be committed, organised, and have somewhat of an understanding of the healthcare system. Whilst this job is definitely not an easy one, if you show your commitment to learn and can work regular evening or weekend shifts, as well as extra time over university holidays, you’ll manage to learn a lot of fantastic skills and knowledge that will be beneficial for your future career. 


  1. Disability Support Work 

Australia is constantly in need of disability support workers, and medical students are incredibly well equipped for the job. Although many employers require certificate courses in disability support, with experience as a medical student who has a working with childrens check, police check, first aid certificate, and every vaccination under the sun, you already meet many of the requirements for becoming a support worker. Whilst the job can be challenging, if you find an organisation that has good training, flexibility, and supportive managers, this type of job can be incredibly rewarding and have very good pay. Some of my friends have even done jobs that require overnight stays where you get paid to sleep over at the house of a client, who if you work with them for years can become like a friend!   


  1. Nightfill 

Are your most productive hours between 6PM and 1AM? Then it's worth looking into a night-fill job. Packing shelves in a supermarket or factory isn’t the most glamorous of jobs, but it pays well and you can stay fit and strong whilst doing it. And, there are the added bonuses of very flexible hours and days, as well as flexibility in the store you work in should you be moving around frequently for placements (relevant if you work for a large supermarket chain). This job is ideal for people who are fast movers, with attention to detail, and the ability to survive with little sleep. 


  1. Pharmacy Assistant 

Pharmacies are an important part of the healthcare system, and as you come to the end of your medical degree like me, you’ll realise just how little we learn about medications, and how much people expect us to know about them as interns. The best job I had throughout my medical degree was working as a dispensary technician/pharmacy assistant in community and hospital pharmacies. A pharmacy assistant is responsible for working in the store just like any other retail store, but with a short certificate course, you can train to be a dispensary technician and essentially be the assistant of the pharmacist, making up prescriptions for them to check and hand out. With pharmacies being a staple in every community, your experience as a medical student is often looked upon favourably as a casual worker, and if you emphasise your ability to be free on weekends and during holidays, you’re likely able to secure some work with good pay, and the benefit of learning much more about medication and prescribing in the process! 


  1. Hospitality 

Jobs in hospitality can be a hit or miss, but there are many benefits to a job in hospitality alongside medical school. Often very flexible, with the majority of hours available being evenings or weekends, hospitality work can be fit around clinical placement much easier than any other job. If you can find a workplace that accommodates your changing schedule, with a manager and team that treat you well, the skills you learn in hospitality with managing customers and working in a team to problem solve, can set you up well for managing patients in teams in the future! 


  1. Research Assistant 

Research in medicine, it seems like people either love it or hate it, but if you are interested in pursuing specialty training of any kind, getting into it early can only be beneficial. Casual research assistant jobs are notoriously difficult to come by, but once you get your foot in the door, it can often snowball into future opportunities that can be beneficial to your career progression as a doctor. If you’ve done any research type subjects in your undergraduate, or masters, write up a CV that is research focused, and send it out to any researchers in areas you are interested in. They might not have jobs at that minute, but ask them to put your CV away and you might find they have some work for you in the future. Benefits of research assistant work are often the ability to work from home (if the job is not lab-based), and you’ll learn useful skills for any future research work you may do in medical school or in clinical practice! 


Now this is by no means an exhaustive list, and for many of you, you have come into medical school with unique previous careers and skills of which you can adapt to fit your life as a medical student. If you are finding it hard to gain employment or fit into a workplace with the schedule you have, or the location you are in, remember that there is always financial support available through scholarships, loans from Centrelink or your university, and that booking in a discussion with your student counsellor can often help you find a way to manage your time and finances. 

Do you have a story idea?

Or have an experience and perspective you’d like to share?

Submit your pitch here