Gap year: full-time ophthalmic technician position or part-time allergist scribing position?

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Egret_Farmer

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Hi all, I’m currently wondering which of these two choices might be best for me. I decided to take a gap year after graduation because I wanted more clinical experience, and thought to apply to full-time jobs to get it. But I also need to increase my volunteering hours (currently have around 80), and the part-time position will allow me to keep my current volunteering commitments, plus give me MCAT studying time. I’m planning to apply next May, by the way, so it’ll be a quick turnaround for me, I think.

Ophthalmic technician pros: more hours, more hands-on work, possibly under a big name ophthalmologist. Vibed with interviewers pretty well. Seems pretty supportive of medical school-related stuff and fairly relaxed. Pays more ($25/hr versus $18/hr, though I’m not in a stressful financial position.)
Cons: Have to start over volunteering commitments, leaving me with 30 in one and 50 in another. Little time left over for studying for the MCAT or volunteering, plus no breather during the week?

Allergist scribe pros: gives me volunteering + studying time
Cons: … I don’t know if specialty prestige is a big part of this (guessing not, because clinical experience seems to be clinical experience), but I suppose allergy/immunology is less “prestigious” or something. Also, will adcoms think I’m lazy for doing part-time work? (Also guessing the answer is no as long as I’m increasing my volunteer/other hours as well, but reading Reddit has me nervous.)
No in-person interview :/ Just offered a job by phone.
Worse Yelp/Indeed reviews, generally less supportive vibe. I know they’re completely different fields, but I’m wondering if this sort of environment will hurt my growth compared to a cushier feel like the ophthalmology clinic.

I have research (>1000 hours + middle author pub), so I really just need to ramp up my clinical and volunteering hours. I also have a few hundred uncertified caregiving hours, which are with the same patient population as the ophthalmology clinic.

Oh yeah… I kind of verbally accepted the allergist scribe position and said I would start next week, but nothing’s in writing yet. So I’m having second thoughts. (Yes, I think I’ll be pretty terrible for backing out now, and possibly burn a bridge with that clinic, but if the consensus goes to the technician position I know what I’ll have to do.) If the ophthalmic position was part-time, it would be a no-brainer.

If anyone has advice for me, I’m all ears!

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opthalmic tech for the $$ and looks better than allergist. plus could be a huge plus if u are interested in opthalmology
 
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So, just to get this straight - you’ve already agreed to the allergist position? And this ophthalmology position would mean you would have to give up your other volunteer position as well as time to study for the MCAT?
 
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So, just to get this straight - you’ve already agreed to the allergist position? And this ophthalmology position would mean you would have to give up your other volunteer position as well as time to study for the MCAT?
Yes, all of that is more or less correct. I haven’t signed anything, so it at least won’t be illegal for me to accept the ophthalmic technician position. (Probably would not go over well with the allergy clinic, though, as I mentioned.) Might it still be worth it, though, just for the pros of the technician position I mentioned?
 
Yes, all of that is more or less correct. I haven’t signed anything, so it at least won’t be illegal for me to accept the ophthalmic technician position. (Probably would not go over well with the allergy clinic, though, as I mentioned.) Might it still be worth it, though, just for the pros of the technician position I mentioned?
Does the technician role involve more direct patient interaction or is it more setting up the instruments? You’d learn a lot about ophthalmology. You’d learn a lot about rheumatology too as a scribe, and also how to write notes, medical terminology, etc.

Prestige shouldn’t be a factor here. They’re both entry level positions. Adcoms aren’t going to start drooling over seeing an ophthalmologist’s name on your app. Physician letters don’t even hold that much weight in this process. The only benefit would be higher pay and networking if that’s a field you’re interested in. You could still shadow this physician if you take the allergist scribe.

Either way - you get out what you put in. They’re both means to an end and not career defining. You’re looking for clinical experiences that you can discuss meaningfully on your app and in interviews.
 
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Does the technician role involve more direct patient interaction or is it more setting up the instruments? You’d learn a lot about ophthalmology. You’d learn a lot about rheumatology too as a scribe, and also how to write notes, medical terminology, etc.

Prestige shouldn’t be a factor here. They’re both entry level positions. Adcoms aren’t going to start drooling over seeing an ophthalmologist’s name on your app. Physician letters don’t even hold that much weight in this process. The only benefit would be higher pay and networking if that’s a field you’re interested in. You could still shadow this physician if you take the allergist scribe.

Either way - you get out what you put in. They’re both means to an end and not career defining. You’re looking for clinical experiences that you can discuss meaningfully on your app and in interviews.
The technician one seems more hands-on. I think the allergy scribe might involve injection training, since the job listing listed this as a preferred skill (plus EMR, which I also don’t have, but the person who contacted me said that was fine and they have access to my resume anyway), but otherwise, it’s just scribing. As far as I know, since I was given little detail about the duties and am currently awaiting a written offer. As an ophthalmic technician, I’d be trained in autorefraction, tonometry, corneal topography, assisting in LASIK, obtaining medical history, plus the usual scribing duties. (Or so I was told at the interview + written job duties.) Plus, the interviewers mentioned that I’d be helping answer patient questions at the front desk. Since I brought up my experience as a caregiver a lot in the interview, they mentioned that the sorts of patient interaction skills you learn in that job would be helpful here. Their clientele is mostly elderly patients, so they apparently get a lot of cataract surgeries, and mentioned that I’d be getting a lot of hands-on experience assessing cataracts.

Since I have no experience whatsoever working in a clinical environment, though, scribing at a rheumatology clinic will probably be equally new to me as working at an ophthalmology clinic. I know little about medical terminology, either, or taking notes as a scribe. I know there’s no scribe certification in the same way as there is an MA or CNA certification, but I’ve heard scribes need a couple months’ worth of training to get up to speed. Not sure how I’ll be able to replace a scribe next week like that, but I assume I’ll learn as I go…

As for picking based on interest: I don’t have my mind set on a specialty yet, and actually, I’m wondering if scribing for an allergy clinic will help me diversify my experience and give me a plus as a result. My caregiving job mostly served well-off elderly clients, and the ophthalmic technician job would give me ~2000 more hours of this same population. The allergy clinic serves a different patient population for sure—maybe not underserved, but it’s kind of a “chain” clinic (sorry, not sure of the terminology). There are lots of clinics under its name in my part of the country. The contrast between the hiring practices of these two places is also really putting me off, plus the other stuff I mentioned. Not sure if being hired this quickly is normal.
 
I don’t understand why , if you take the FT job, you will have to drop your volunteering and most importantly studying for the MCAT.
But, Based on what you have shared take the scribe job. You don’t need the money, you do have to do your volunteering and the MCAT studying is most important.
 
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I don’t understand why , if you take the FT job, you will have to drop your volunteering and most importantly studying for the MCAT.
But, Based on what you have shared take the scribe job. You don’t need the money, you do have to do your volunteering and the MCAT studying is most important.
If I take that job, I’ll have to relocate to a different area, and I won’t have time for the shifts (which occur during the work week). Probably I’d be able to study for the MCAT if I were dedicated enough, but I’m a little worried about being burned out, since I’d of course have to make up for my lost volunteering opportunities somehow… probably during the weekend if I don’t want to sleep late but need to make up for the fact that I only have 80 hours? I suppose it’s not impossible, though. Just cutting it a bit close for me, since I’m the type who generally plays it safe with regard to allocating time to my activities. I had to fight a little bit to get my current volunteering positions as well, so I’m pretty averse to letting go of them. I was a student in a premed-saturated area, so maybe I’m just inappropriately applying my struggles to this new area, but from what I’ve seen volunteering places are competitive and can take months to join. (I guess I’ll just state upfront I’m from the Bay Area.)

Yeah, I think taking the scribe job would be the most common sense thing to do. Although one can probably tell that I’d prefer to take the ophthalmic technician job :laugh:.
 
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