Where are all the sick people?
March 31, 2010 6:03 PM   Subscribe

How do I get a part-time job (nights and/or weekends) in health care could I seek considering that I have no clinical experience and a full-time job?

I am looking to (1) determine whether a healthcare career track is the right one for me, (2) enhance my medical school application, and (3) supplement my income in order to pay off undergraduate loans more quickly (compensation is not a huge concern, however). I have a full-time job in biomedical research, but my hours are currently flexible with the option of working four 10-hour days a week or whatever schedule it takes to get my work done. Ideally, my part-time job would allow me to work directly with patients – I thrive on helping people.

A part-time job as an emergency room tech would be ideal, but my only experience working with patients has been in a volunteer context. I also have extensive and ongoing volunteer experience working with (healthy) children. I'd be interested in caregiver positions, but I don't have qualifications as a nursing aide/EMT, and at this point it would not be entirely practical for me to spend the money to get them and risk being rejected for jobs regardless.

My metro area doesn't have any volunteer EMT opportunities, and after reading this question I am not sure whether I could get a job even after taking the ~$1000 certification course: all the listings I have seen require at least a year of experience.

What types of entry-level positions are there for people with no training?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
It really depends on where you live, but around here in the Boston area I've seen listings for mental health workers that pay minimum wage or slightly above. A lot of it is overnights in residential treatment programs. It's far from glamorous, but it fits what you're looking for.
posted by kpht at 6:12 PM on March 31, 2010

Not that I particularly like employment agencies, but maybe an employment agency can help. You may not get paid as much, but they may have better connections to hospitals & health orgs seeking temporary or part time work.

Also, do your past professors have any connections?
posted by SarahbytheSea at 6:45 PM on March 31, 2010

A few of the residents in my emergency medicine program got started by being an emergency department tech. Yes, it basically involves getting people stuff and making sure everything is in the right place, but you get plenty of face time with patients, nurses may teach you how to do things like put in an IV, and you will learn what all the 'stuff' is and some of how it works, which is interesting and useful. It also lends itself to nights and evenings.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:46 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would look for caregiving positions caring for seniors/chronically ill people, often cancer patients. This often just involves feeding them, changing them, helping them around. If you really want experience and can't get hired, you might even see about volunteering for this, because in my experience, tons of people need this but can't afford to hire a private service for it.

I know that nursing homes where I live are always looking for orderlies to work at night (or whatever they call them nowadays). Most of them are really young people (like late teens/early 20s), so I don't think they have any special training going in.
posted by ishotjr at 6:47 PM on March 31, 2010

I know that nursing homes where I live are always looking for orderlies to work at night (or whatever they call them nowadays). Most of them are really young people (like late teens/early 20s), so I don't think they have any special training going in.
I could be wrong, but I think that most of those people these days are certified nursing assistants, and they do have to have some training. Its not terribly much training: I think it's like 150 hours or so, but it sounds like the OP doesn't want to do any training. I have several students who were CNAs in high school.
posted by craichead at 6:57 PM on March 31, 2010

If you don't have any of the certifications that would qualify you for an institutional job you might want to look into home health care; a lot of people hire someone to help out with people (usually but not always elderly) who are unable to care for themselves. Essentially you are a glorified baby-sitter, but without getting some sort of formal training (in addition to the CPR and basic first aid that you probably got as part of your volunteering) it will be hard to do much more. My wife had a job like this for a while and her only qualification was that her father is a physician, so the requirements can be pretty easy to meet. Also, if you are looking at medical school, it will give you a perspective on how chronically ill patients fare outside of the hospital/office that many physicians lack.
posted by TedW at 7:02 PM on March 31, 2010

Also, craichead is right about CNAs .
posted by TedW at 7:09 PM on March 31, 2010

Choose a local hospital, choose a department you are interested in, call the hiring manager and as if they have any openings for weekend aides or techs. I know many people like you -- students and potential students -- who have been hired in that role. It doesn't pay much but if they find you suitable they will train you for free and you will get plenty of opportunity to interact with patients.
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 7:34 PM on March 31, 2010

When I was premed I volunteered doing vitals and intake at a local safety net clinic. A lot of the volunteers were premed students without any experience. Or maybe you have some connections and could find a physician who would let you shadow them on a regular basis for a few months. I applied to med school while working a full-time research tech position. Getting another part time job on top of all that sounds like a lot to take on.
posted by esnyder at 8:17 PM on March 31, 2010

Some hospitals have programs that will train you as a phlebotomist. It's formally a 6-week course, but I've seen some where most of that is on-the-job training. Might not be as much direct caregiving, but it's a start.

You could also apply for a position as a transporter (e.g. taking patients from a unit to radiology, or between units, or whatever) if that'd be enough personal attention for you.
posted by Lifeson at 9:04 PM on March 31, 2010

I think that getting an EMT or CNA cert would be totally worth it and the courses are not that long. See if your state of county offers subsidized courses, a lot do. You might also consider a job or volunteering opportunity that supports that kind of training, for example my younger-self outdoor oriented jobs paid for about 1 thousand hours of first aid training over the years (peeps did everything from lacerating internal organs to ripping fingers off on a fairly regular basis so you get a fair bit of practical experience too). Our local search and rescue volunteer organization gets great deals on group trainings for EMT, wilderness first aid responder and the like. I'm planning on getting both certs in the next couple years as a back up job option.

If you live in a rural area volunteer fire fighting is a good way to get some training and experience.
posted by fshgrl at 11:31 PM on March 31, 2010

I know somebody who was an EMT while in med school and somebody else who was both a phlebotomist (draws blood, fyi) and an operating room anesthesia tech during different summers. For phlebotomy and EMT there are different programs that either do on-the-job training or night classes plus on-the-job training.

The anesthesia tech job sounded super easy; he just refilled the supplies in the OR between surgeries. The phlebotomy job had direct patient contact and you get to learn what its like to make somebody bleed professionally.
posted by AtomicBee at 1:18 PM on April 1, 2010

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