JAANUU » Being a Medical Student: An Exciting and Demanding Journey

Being a Medical Student: An Exciting and Demanding Journey

Medical student covering their face from the sun
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Responsibility and perseverance are the two keys to success for any medical student. Whether you’re making time for your study sessions or providing excellent patient care, your hard-working, diligent attitude won’t change. And, since medical school is an enduring journey, you’ll find yourself digging deep and relying on your perseverance. 

While you may know that medical student responsibilities demand your time, knowledge, and emotions, you might be unaware of what your med school journey will entail. 

Let’s break down what it’s really like to be a medical student, what you’ll do on a daily basis, and how you can keep up with your studies and make money to help pay back your loans. 

It’s a hands-on career

Medical students learn in two key ways: coursework and hands-on practice. During the third and fourth years at your school of medicine, you’ll begin your clinical training, which will continue into your residency (and later, of course, your career as a doctor). During your clinical rotations, you’ll not only learn about different specialties first-hand, but you’ll also provide direct care to patients by performing the following tasks:

  • Interviewing patients
  • Assisting in procedures
  • Planning discharges 
  • Helping with care coordination
  • Taking vital signs 
  • Assessing new admissions and gathering information 
  • Presenting information to your attending 
  • Working with nurses to review notes 
  • Gathering information from staff members who worked the previous shift

Medical students play an important role in providing patient care in the healthcare ecosystem. They’re not licensed physicians, but med students can perform basic healthcare tasks, while they’re learning. During healthcare crises, like pandemics, having extra sets of hands at the hospital can help keep clinical care moving in an essential way. 

Things all medical students should know

Female Medical Student wearing beige knitted scarf and blue scrub top

As you set out on your journey as a medical school student, you can prepare yourself up for an easier ride by remembering the following:

  • Medical school is an opportunity to practice what you learn: This may be one of the first times in your life and medical education you can directly apply what you’re learning in your classes to practical situations. Take advantage of this enriching experience. It’ll help set you up for success in your career.
  • You’ll grow as a person: In medical school, you’ll have inspiring mentors and colleagues, some of whom may become life-long friends. Combine your learnings in the classroom and clinical settings with the interpersonal ones to mature into a knowledgeable, compassionate medical professional. 
  • Studying medicine keeps you up to date: Medical professionals must dedicate themselves to life-long learning. This can help you reap two benefits––not only will you provide better patient care because of the knowledge you’re constantly acquiring, but you’ll always be up to date on the latest in your field. 
  • You’re in for the long haul: Yes, the road to becoming a doctor is prolonged, but once the license is in your hands, it’s all worth it. The route starts with earning a pre-med undergraduate degree, which usually requires four years. The next step is medical school, which is another four years. Lastly, you’ll attend a residency program of 3-7 years. It may seem like a lot, but you’ll apply the skills you hone during these years to a long and fruitful career full of learning and leadership opportunities. 

Work while you study

Clinical practice, new friendships and mentorship, and learnings from research and class––medical school is rich with experiences. And you can add another experience to the mix by taking on paid work while studying. Earning money can help offset your living expenses or pay off loans. You can also gain experience in an academic or clinical environment. Here are a few medical student jobs to consider:

  • Teaching assistant: Help professors and students by applying your knowledge of medicine in an academic environment. Your expertise can help another student ace an exam, and you’ll get paid for the time invested. 
  • Phlebotomist technician: Put your clinical skills to work drawing blood for samples. This paid role can help you perfect your “bedside manner.
  • Research assistant: Learn even more about your field by teaming with a professor to help with their research. Not only will you help make an exciting discovery, but you’ll also earn money and a talking point for your resume. 
  • Pharmacy technician: It’s no easy feat remembering all those complex pharmacology terms, so spending more time around them can help you retain the information. You’ll also learn about commonly prescribed medications and dosages. 


Male medical student wearing gray scrub jacket with pens in arm pocket

Is a nurse a medical student?

Nurses have to study certain aspects of medicine and clinical care before completing a college-level nursing program and becoming certified to practice. But they’re not med students. The term medical student most often refers to someone studying to become a doctor in a post-graduate, 4-year med school program. 

What’s a medical student’s salary?

Medical students don’t get paid during school, clinical rotations, or clerkships. Of course, those who hold a job—like those listed above—can earn some money during their medical student years. But medical school students don’t earn anything for the clinical care they provide until they’ve completed their studies. Medical residents, however, get paid around $60,000 per year for their work. Since residents have already attended med school, they can take on more clinical responsibility. 

When embarking on any journey, you always want to bring along all the essential supplies. As a med student on the route to becoming a healthcare professional, that includes performance scrubs that’ll keep you comfortable whether you’re hitting the books or providing care in the hospital. You can even get a student discount when you shop from us (consider this us cheering for you!). Remember, comfortability is just one part of wellness. Keep up on your self-care, and take care of your mental health.

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