2+ Year Member
Jun 21, 2016
Looking at the MSAR, a lot of schools have roughly 50% of acceptable applicants with medical/clinical work experience on their resumes, some even as low as below 30%. Is this because not many applicants are paid for work in a clinical setting, or because schools don't give much favor to it?


2+ Year Member
May 29, 2017
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
I think it's primarily because it's difficult for full time "traditional" pre mess who start med school right after graduating college to hold paid clinical work.
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2+ Year Member
May 16, 2017
Medical Student (Accepted)
Look at the number of clinical volunteering compared to that. I don't think many undergrads have actual paid jobs in a clinical setting and more are probably people who take gap years. Further, at least when I put it, full time paid research doesn't really count as clinical unless you are actively working with patients which not sure what % of people do that as I do wet lab not clinical stuff
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2+ Year Member
Sep 2, 2017
pacific coast
Medical Student (Accepted)
It takes time to be trained (and certified) to be a CNA, EMT, scribe, medical assistant, etc. Most clinical volunteering takes much less time and energy in comparison.
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the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
Academic Administration
Looking at the MSAR, a lot of schools have roughly 50% of acceptable applicants with medical/clinical work experience on their resumes, some even as low as below 30%. Is this because not many applicants are paid for work in a clinical setting, or because schools don't give much favor to it?
We would need to know the proportion of applicants who applied to that school that had paid clinical experience and then we could do a statistical analysis to see if there was a statistically significant difference between the proportion with experience who matriculate and the proportion without experience who matriculated. We don't have that data, do we?

I suspect that most schools want to see clinical experience of some kind and don't really care if it were paid or unpaid and that 30% just represent the proportion of the applicant pool that have that experience.


Residency is ruff!
7+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2012
The South
Resident [Any Field]
I'm going to quote a portion of one of the large posts I recently made on SDN regarding doing entry-level clinical as a pre-med. The whole post is here: Planes2Doc's Ultimate Guide to Final Fantasy 7, Medical School Purgatory, & Typical Pre-Med Missteps

tl;dr: Medical school starts you at step zero. You do not need any significant clinical experience or specific skills to succeed in medical school. Given the competitiveness of getting into medical school, doing these jobs is usually a bad idea given the time constraints and the fact that they don't set you apart.

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed non-stop threads regarding entry-level clinical jobs. You see a lot of the typical stuff. You see people comparing EMT versus CNA, EMT versus scribing, an entry-level clinical job versus non-clinical job, and entry-level clinical job versus volunteering. Clinical jobs are something that end up absolutely killing pre-meds. Not only do they destroy their chances of matriculating to medical school, but also ends up destroying their chances for a decent career in the future since they often wreak havoc on their GPA. Both Nina and Matt thought their jobs would give them a massive leg up in the admissions process by making them look better. But instead, these shifts cut right into their much-needed study time for classes and the MCAT. Despite having this "medical experience," it will not make an otherwise poor application with bad grades or MCAT look better.

What do ADCOMs want? They want you to have CLINICAL EXPERIENCE. What exactly is clinical experience? It is having seen the clinical environment, so you know what you are getting yourself into. The purpose is NOT to learn any specific clinical skills. Can you repeat this with me? The purpose is not to learn any specific clinical skills. Now repeat it as many times as you need to in order to get this into your head. Medical school starts you at STEP ZERO. You will learn the most basic of skills required for becoming a doctor and will not feel left behind. There were a few former CNAs and scribes in my class, and they may have had one class worth (and that's being generous of course) of an advantage over the rest of us (since they knew how to check vitals and simple stuff like that). But otherwise, never did I feel left behind or lacking of any skills. Never did I say to myself, "I wish I was a:thumbdown: [INSERT ENTRY-LEVEL CLINICAL JOB] before medical school!" This is not like PA school, that acts as a fast-track curriculum and therefore requires hundreds of paid clinical experience hours. Even so, my friend that is a PA said the following: "Honestly I don't see why it makes a difference!! I did enjoy my paid clinical work before PA school but it's stupid that it's required. Those jobs are so low paying. It's like PA school expects you to work as an MA or CNA for $15/hour for 2 years just to get into PA school."

How do I view entry-level clinical jobs? Let's put it into a different perspective. Let's pretend your dream is to become an airline pilot. You can go ahead and become a flight attendant if you'd like. You'll see the airport, you'll the airplane, you'll interact with the pilots, and you may even find yourself in the cockpit on some occasions. But at the end of the day, despite seeing both the airport and airplane, you are not a pilot. You are not doing anything that has anything remotely to do with piloting a plane. This will not make you a better pilot in any way.

The same can be said of entry-level clinical jobs. Sure, you'll see the clinical environment. You'll interact with patients, and other members of the healthcare team. But you will NOT be performing tasks that doctors are expected to do. So far, throughout clinical rotations in medical school and now working as a resident, there are many things I have never done, have never been expected to do, and will likely never do. I haven't fed a patient, I haven't wiped a patient's butt, I haven't emptied a patient's bed pan, I haven't bathed a patient, I haven't tried to figure out a nursing home or rehab facility placement for the patient, and the list goes on. I'm not saying this to be a jerk or to be all high and mighty. But these are not tasks that a doctor does. These are not tasks that the doctor will be expected to do. There are positions in the hospital that take care of these things, and are paid to do so. A doctor is not a magical Swiss Army Knife that has to do every little thing from diagnosing and formulating a treatment plan, to wiping the patient's butt, all the way to figuring out placement after discharge. There are people there for that. They are paid to do this. Never be afraid to ask people to do THEIR job. I'm not saying what they do is unimportant or is below me. All I'm saying is that there are different duties delegated to different members of the healthcare team, and it is that way for a reason. Everyone has their place and their own things to do.

Also, while you get paid, it is pocket change compared to future earnings as a doctor as well as potential losses by either doing an expensive SMP or getting crappier jobs as a result of dropping the pre-med track.

The doctor is not supposed to be like this Swiss Army Knife

For some reason, people seem to take most offense when I write about entry-level clinical jobs. People tell me that I'm flat out wrong. Look, I'm not saying your experiences are worthless. That's not what I'm trying to get at. All I'm saying is that you will have the rest of your life as a physician to have these experiences. You will laugh. You will cry. You will cure. You will code. You will see patients die from right in front of you. I promise you, you'll have the ability to experience all of these things. I know I have during both medical school and now as a resident. But there is no need to start trying to become a Chief Medical Scribe when your goal is to become a physician. These jobs do not set you apart since so many people are already doing them, and can negatively impact your grades and MCAT, ultimately destroying your chances of getting into medical school. Often times, people remain underemployed and stay in these entry-level clinical jobs. I have compared these to having your Bar Mitzvah in Judaism, so check it out if you'd like: Clinical Jobs, Bar Mitzvahs, and Why You Shouldn't Do It

Also, another important thing I'd like to note is quitting entry-level clinical jobs you already have. Some people find that they are conflicting with school, and choose to drop them. First of all, I'd like to say that no one in your life will be loyal to you except your family and your dog. Employers do not care about you, and will fire you if you aren't performing well, or just for any other reason. If you feel that your grades are being impacted, quit! The best way to do it is a two week notice, so you can hopefully quit without burning bridges. If this isn't possible, then quit immediately. Just because they are short-staffed is NOT YOUR PROBLEM, IT IS THEIR PROBLEM. All jobs have turnover rates, and managers are supposed to deal with it. It's just a part of being in the business. My cousin is a general manager and part owner at a high volume car dealership. He says the biggest joke in the business is a two-week notice. People just walk out (usually with profanities), and that's how it goes. He deals with it. It's a part of being a general manager of a car dealership. It is not worth sacrificing the rest of your life (by getting bad grades or an MCAT) just so this company that doesn't give two $h1ts about you can find a replacement. If things went bad and bridges were burned, the solution is simple. Leave it OFF your resume and AMCAS application. Unless your name was on a website or you had this listed on Facebook or Linkedin as your employment, there will be no way to look up your previous employment history. You do not need to disclose every little thing, and especially things that will make you look bad! Just take the hit from the wasted hours (at least you got paid), and move on.
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