Research Assistant vs Medical Assistant for my two gap years?

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New Member
2+ Year Member
Nov 14, 2019
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Hi! I'm currently a senior and I have two gap year offers, one for a research tech/assistant and the other is for a medical assistant for a private clinic. I'm going to take two gap years, and I'm split on which one to take.

  1. Research Assistant -- The lab is very productive, and the PI wants the RAs to work on their own independent projects. I enjoy doing research and have been doing so for my entire college career, so I already have more than enough hours. Also, the PI does clinical research which is cool. I would probably be able to get published during my first gap year, which would be a big plus when I apply.
  2. Medical Assistant -- Would get more patient interaction and up-close view of medicine. I have around ~400 hours of clinical experience right now from scribing and I plan on continuing volunteering during my gap years. Would be able to get a ton of clinical experience and shadowing hours in this position, which would help me with essays and such.
The pay for these is around the same (med assistant is slightly lower). I would enjoy both positions, maybe would enjoy the medical assistant slightly more since I enjoy interacting with patients, but if the RA position is better for my app, I would gladly do that over the med assistant. I guess at this point, I'm just deciding on which position would be better for my med school application in a year and I would like some second opinions :)


the evil queen of numbers
15+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
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Also consider what you would like to do if you don't get into medical school on the first, second or third try. Which experience would better position you for what you'd like to do long term. If you would consider physician assistant, post-bac BSN, or other clinical position, the medical assistant job might be better. If you would consider a MS or PhD in the natural sciences with the goal of being a bench scientist in pharma, academics, etc the lab position might be better. Give it some thought thinking about short-term and long-term.
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