Medical students’ experience of studying while working part-time and the effects of COVID-19

Elizabeth Stevenson, Helen Nicholson, Kelby Smith-Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


AIMS: The costs of being a medical student are large and increasing, and many students need to work part-time to meet financial pressures. This study explores the impact that part-time extracurricular paid work during the academic year has on medical student wellbeing, their interactions with the curriculum, and the effect of COVID-19 on work in 2020. METHODS: An online survey in 2020 gathered demographic, quantitative and qualitative information from medical students and their work experiences. Descriptive statistics analysed quantitative data; qualitative data were analysed using qualitative content analysis. RESULTS: Of the 36% (n=530) of students who responded, 255 (49%) reported undertaking paid part-time work, with 59 (24%) reporting they would not be able to remain studying if they did not work. When interacting with the medical programme, 43% of students reported their work conflicted with scheduled medical school commitments, and 70% reported conflicts between work and individual study. COVID-19 disrupted 57% of paid work during the year. Impacts on students’ wellbeing were both positive and negative. Positive aspects included developing new skills, self-confidence and resilience. Working also provided an escape from the study demands of the medical programme. Negative aspects were predominantly about the increased stress working had on students, specifically on the impact of paid work on their own health. CONCLUSIONS: Almost half of medical students work part-time while studying. Understanding the perceived implications that part-time work has on student education and wellbeing could help medical schools provide appropriate advice and pastoral support for their students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-48
Number of pages11
JournalThe New Zealand Medical Journal
Issue number1557
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


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