Feb 25, 2021
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Hi guys! I am going to be graduating this May and am considering what I should do during my gap year before medical school. I have research experience since I was a sophomore in college and have worked as a nursing aide at an assisted living facility. I recently got offered a job as a clinical technician (essentially a PCA) at a great hospital but have been hesitant to accept it due to the cost of living. My other option would be to commute to my university and work as a clinical research assistant. For me, I know I would find it more fulfilling to work as a PCA because I find caring for others as very important and know that I can have a direct impact on patients as a PCA. Is working as a PCA a meaningful gap year experience compared to being a clinical research assistant?
 
Sep 1, 2020
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I believe being a PCA will be an immensely valuable gap year experience. I am a PCT (from what I am aware of...PCT and PCA are the exact same thing) in the ICU and have been working here for around 2 years. We are actually in the opposite situation. I am looking to switch from a PCT to a CRA/CRC position for my gap year. However, that is not due to my PCT experience not being meaningful.

In terms of "meaningful" experiences, being a PCA is most likely the best way to obtain actual, meaningful clinical experience compared to being a CRA/CRC, MA, Scribe, etc. You are literally at the bedside and caring for these patients. It is an immensely impactful position and if money is not a major concern, I would take it. However, it depends on what you are looking for. If you really enjoy research and want to continue as a CRA, nothing wrong with that.

Personally, I am making the switch for two reasons:
1) I really enjoyed my time as a PCT in the ICU, however, I want to try something new now. I learned a lot due to this experience and it really established why I want to head into medicine.
2) Money. This job doesn't pay super well. I get around 13/hr and if I decide to find a new PCT position once I move back to my hometown I could be expecting anywhere from 15 to 17/hr. On the other hand, as a CRC I should be expecting 20/hr or more. Money is a big factor for me, I enjoy research, and look forward to this new experience.
 
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Doctor-S

Grand Rounds Clinical & Research
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Jun 9, 2016
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Hi guys! I am going to be graduating this May and am considering what I should do during my gap year before medical school. I have research experience since I was a sophomore in college and have worked as a nursing aide at an assisted living facility. I recently got offered a job as a clinical technician (essentially a PCA) at a great hospital but have been hesitant to accept it due to the cost of living. My other option would be to commute to my university and work as a clinical research assistant. For me, I know I would find it more fulfilling to work as a PCA because I find caring for others as very important and know that I can have a direct impact on patients as a PCA. Is working as a PCA a meaningful gap year experience compared to being a clinical research assistant?
It's a worthwhile gap year experience.

As a PCA, you should obtain meaningful knowledge, insight and experience in providing clinical care and compassionate comfort to patients, of diverse backgrounds, including elderly, homeless and chronically ill, who are presenting with different medical issues (e.g., ICU, pre-operative, post-operative, cardiac, oncology, trauma care, pallative care) for which your services as a PCA are needed. More importantly, you mentioned in your post that you "find caring for others as very important" and you believe that you "can have a direct impact on patients" as a PCA. Very good!
 
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Feb 25, 2021
3
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  1. Pre-Medical
I believe being a PCA will be an immensely valuable gap year experience. I am a PCT (from what I am aware of...PCT and PCA are the exact same thing) in the ICU and have been working here for around 2 years. We are actually in the opposite situation. I am looking to switch from a PCT to a CRA/CRC position for my gap year. However, that is not due to my PCT experience not being meaningful.

In terms of "meaningful" experiences, being a PCA is most likely the best way to obtain actual, meaningful clinical experience compared to being a CRA/CRC, MA, Scribe, etc. You are literally at the bedside and caring for these patients. It is an immensely impactful position and if money is not a major concern, I would take it. However, it depends on what you are looking for. If you really enjoy research and want to continue as a CRA, nothing wrong with that.

Personally, I am making the switch for two reasons:
1) I really enjoyed my time as a PCT in the ICU, however, I want to try something new now. I learned a lot due to this experience and it really established why I want to head into medicine.
2) Money. This job doesn't pay super well. I get around 13/hr and if I decide to find a new PCT position once I move back to my hometown I could be expecting anywhere from 15 to 17/hr. On the other hand, as a CRC I should be expecting 20/hr or more. Money is a big factor for me, I enjoy research, and look forward to this new experience.
Thanks for the response! I hope you are able to find a CRA position! At my college, it seems that most pre-meds around me tend to do a research gap year, so I felt odd going a different path! I'm glad to see someone else going on that path and finding it fulfilling!
 
Feb 25, 2021
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  1. Pre-Medical
It's a worthwhile gap year experience.

As a PCA, you should obtain meaningful knowledge, insight and experience in providing clinical care and compassionate comfort to patients, of diverse backgrounds, including elderly, homelessless and chronically ill, who are presenting with different medical issues (e.g., ICU, pre-operative, post-operative, cardiac, oncology, trauma care, pallative care) for which your services as a PCA are needed. More importantly, you mentioned in your post that you "find caring for others as very important" and you believe that you "can have a direct impact on patients" as a PCA. Very good!
Thank you! I have been hesitant due to the low pay, but I do think it'll be worth it and I would enjoy it more than a lab position! :)
 
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