Medicine is an expensive endeavour, when you are a graduate medic the finances get harder. You get less finance support from student finance and you are expected to part fund your first year’s tuition fees. (twice if you are a medical student). It becomes inevitable that you have to work to support your studies. Recently I have been looking closely at my finances, because this year I am really trying to curb my spending and get away from my overdraft limit. With this look I’ve been having to look into how much I need to work and how I can curb my spending… and it inspired this blog post.
Timetabling constraints are the biggest issue in finding work. The timetable shows long days and doesn’t include the evening societies or student based learning experiences. It makes it incredibly hard to find a sustainable job that is flexible enough to fit around your learning, but can still enough to support you financially. You also need time off for exams or placements, which some people aren’t susceptible too. Whilst casual work is a great option in this, most casual work is seasonal, usually peaking just before summer, which is when exams start.
Just because you have to work around a complicated timetable doesn’t mean you can’t find work. There’s always bar and restaurant work available if you look at online job sites always have casual jobs up to apply to. Also you’ll find that medical students pass down jobs, usually from places that are happy to have medical students or jobs that are useful for medical careers. I have a look around the medical school notice boards too, as there are interning opportunities that sometimes pay, or are interesting for you future applications.
Whilst there are always jobs around, applying for them can take time and you can get lost in what it’s commonly termed ‘medicine guilt’. This is the term for how bad you feel If you do something with your time that isn’t medicine. Its a massive emotional hold on you where you do something that’s not medicine and all you can think about is that you should be doing this or that bit of medicine… just medicine.
I suffered a lot from this when I started job hunting after moving to Coventry. I was fortunate that my last job was as a First Aider, and so I had experience to do this as a job. So I can at least convince myself that I am practising my clinical skills. I also get to see some experience things, that I would probably never normally do and its really made me a more outgoing person. Having a job that you can do whilst studying that is relevant to your degree is probably the best thing you can do to combat this ‘medicine guilt’. There are many options, medical records, GP assistants, we have a lot of people who are HCAs or do bank work in the profession they do before (pharmacists, nurses, midwifes, paramedics ect.); which I suppose is the benefit of being graduates.
There are bonuses to having a job that’s a non-medicine. Some people prefer it, it’s a chance to think about something other than medicine, a scheduled time to not do medicine and its a great coping mechanism for some people. In some areas, it’s easier to find a casual student job if it’s not a medicine related job. Theres always a bar and waitressing job near universities. There are also so great opportunities to find campus jobs, they often work around your timetable; or warden / care taking jobs where you look after airbnb buildings in return for reduced rent, similar to my resident tutor job.
I think the important thing about working is to balance it with uni work. You also need to think about these things far in advance. I made the mistake of waiting until I was far to low on money to start job hunting, it left me working more than I should have in the run up to exam season. I could have easily started earlier and then had more time during exams to focus on my studies, but I had to pay my rent somehow! I can only theorise how stressful its going to be to survive during placement periods in the years to come. Balancing essentially two jobs and studying will be tricky, which is why I am trying to be smart with my finances now, so that I can afford to work less if I need to. Medicine is hard, and it’s not always the lecture content that makes it so.