The number of medical school applicants with no specific degree program is increasing in recent years.
But even though graduates with doctorates in their chosen fields typically earn more than those with no degree program, they’re not necessarily better off financially.
According to the National Association of Business Schools, more than half of students who complete their programs earn less than $45,000.
“It can be hard to get into medical school, particularly if you have a strong medical background,” says John Ziegler, director of the Center for Medical Education at the University of Maryland.
“If you’re not particularly motivated, there’s a lot of work to do to become a doctor.”
A new survey from the American Medical Association suggests there are still plenty of reasons to apply to medical school.
More than half (55%) of medical students have heard from other students about their experience.
Only 17% say they have had a significant financial advantage from applying to medical schools.
Many medical school graduates don’t have a doctorate degree and only a high school diploma is required for licensure in the United States.
But if you’re willing to work for your degree and make a few sacrifices, you may be able to get in.
Here are seven tips to help you become a better-paying medical professional.
Don’t settle for a poor deal.
Many people want to work in a field that they’re passionate about and pay a premium to enter, Zieglev says.
“The problem is, you’re looking at a huge pool of applicants and they’re all looking to do things they’re excited about,” he says.
Employers are looking to recruit candidates who have specific interests and strong communication skills, and these skills can be especially important when it comes to a career in medicine.
If you have some experience working in a specialty or specialized field and know how to communicate that with your peers, you’ll be better able to negotiate a good salary and a decent living for yourself and your family.
“I think most people who apply to med school have a passion for what they’re doing and want to pursue it,” Ziegle says.
Apply for a job with your skills and interests.
In general, it pays to apply in a different field or to work on projects with your passions.
“A lot of applicants say that their interests are different, and that they can’t get into a medical school because of their interests,” Zegler says.
And many medical school students with strong communication and leadership skills are also looking for a new opportunity.
Ziegelman suggests that you work with your mentor or faculty member to develop your professional portfolio.
You can also apply to internships, volunteer opportunities, or internships in a clinical setting.
“Once you have that, it’s easy to move into an academic setting,” Ziegel says.
Learn about the career path of your future colleagues.
Some medical schools have offered career counseling and networking opportunities to help medical students find work.
Some programs offer job fairs or even job seminars to help prospective medical students evaluate the medical profession and find the best career opportunities.
The AMA says it’s especially important to have the right job, because medical schools typically pay better than other fields for their students with some medical degrees.
If your career path is on the positive side, you should be able find a job and make some money as soon as possible.
Learn more about the job market and get an internship.
It’s not uncommon for medical students to receive offers for internship, and the AMA suggests doing the same.
“Some employers are looking for candidates with an interest in the field and they’ll want to meet with them in person and provide them with an opportunity to get to know them and to see what they can offer to the medical industry,” Zeegler says, “and to see how that compares to other fields.”
Get involved in community health programs.
Many students work in health departments or other community-based settings that provide critical services, including mental health, substance abuse and substance use prevention, among other services.
“These organizations are often a huge source of opportunity and help people to be successful in their careers,” Zeller says.
A recent survey from CareerBuilder found that nearly a quarter of medical schools surveyed have internships or job opportunities.
There’s also an increase in the number of students in medical school who have intern programs in the past year.
“There’s been a lot more interest from medical schools and employers in looking for students with a passion and a strong work ethic,” Ziegers says.
Apply to jobs in specialty areas.
Even though you may have strong credentials and experience in a particular field, you might still be better off applying to a specialty in order to have a chance at getting a good job, Zeeggler says: “There are people who will work in specialty jobs, so if you want to get a job, apply to specialty positions.”
Ziegliers suggests that if you