You’ve probably been through a lot of standardized testing to get where you are today.
You may have shelled out $2000+ for an MCAT prep course that also ate up your Saturdays and 2-3 evenings per week for three months straight.
You may have spent an entire summer break studying for the USMLE Step 1, dedicating over 8 hours per day and hundreds of dollars for question banks and other materials.
For the USMLE Step 2 CS, chances are that you paid over $1200 in exam fees alone and had to travel to a different city to actually take the test.
Rinse and repeat for the remainder of the USMLE, board exams, and other tests that US physicians need to take.
For NPs, PAs, and other practitioners, you can relate. The time, effort, and expense of standardized testing for healthcare practitioners are huge.
It was worth it… but we can do more
Hopefully, you feel like it was all worth it. I do. But, even so, I try to find ways that I can continue to take advantage of all the test-taking skills I mastered and minutia I memorized along the way.
Here are several ways you can prolong the benefits of your standardized testing savviness. Keep the momentum going for financial and professional reward!
Capitalize on your standardized test experience with freelance writing jobs for physicians, teaching opportunities, and more
Preparing for medical exams helped you acquire a skill set. As with any skill set, there are ways to earn income from it or otherwise use it to your advantage for furthering your career or improving your personal happiness.
Work in medical communications or medical education
Anyone looking to transition to a non-clinical career may be able to use their standardized testing experience in a position outside of the hospital or clinic. Many medical writing jobs for physicians involve writing test questions or developing material that will be the basis for some sort of test.
This includes jobs with:
- Medical education departments of pharmaceutical companies
- Medical communications (ie, medcom) agencies
- Medical education providers
Freelance writing jobs for physicians in this space can include developing CME activities along with pre- and post-test questions to evaluate CME effectiveness.
Readers interested in learning more about careers in this space can check out the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions.
Write test questions as a side gig or professional volunteer work
You don’t need to leave clinical medicine or change jobs to utilize your standardized testing skill set.
Most freelance writing jobs for physicians don’t specifically require an MD, but test prep question-writing gigs are a frequent exception. Having a medical degree is a big plus, and is often required, for consulting work in exam question writing.
There’s also nothing stopping you from developing your own bank of test prep questions and establishing your own business. Osmosis and Board Vitals are examples of successful companies started by physicians that offer test prep materials to medical students and professionals.
Outside of for-profit test prep companies, there are opportunities to write board exam questions for specialty boards. This is typically done on a volunteer basis but often compensates in the form of maintenance of certification credits or – at the least – something to add to your resume.
Take more standardized tests
Yes, you read that heading correctly. You can continue to reap the benefits of your effort in preparing for standardized tests by taking more standardized tests.
Many certifications that are relevant to physicians require that the applicant pass a test. For instance, certifications in health informatics, quality improvement, or medical practice areas.
I recently earned the Certified Correctional Health Professional (CCHP) designation. I had to pass a multiple-choice test to receive it. Studying the material was straightforward since I already had a test prep modus operandi. I was familiar with the process of going to a testing center and knew what to expect. The whole thing seemed routine to me.
There are opportunities beyond certifications to take more standardized tests. For example, a written test is part of the application process for some management consulting jobs.
Tutor students preparing for the MCAT or USMLE
If you excelled in preparing for the exams that got you to where you are today, you’re likely to be successful in helping others to prepare, as well. Private tutoring for the MCAT or USMLE can be financially and personally rewarding. It’s also a feasible gig for those who are still students themselves or not yet licensed.
Marketing your own tutoring services might seem daunting. If so, there’s the option to teach or tutor for a test prep company such as Kaplan or The Princeton Review. This option is most fitting if you’re still in school and looking for some side work, as the pay is not spectacular.
Become an adjunct professor
Colleges and universities hire adjunct professors to teach courses on a part-time schedule. These positions are often for a single semester at a time. Hours are variable but are often limited to a couple of days per week or to evenings.
Online programs frequently have openings for adjunct teaching staff that are entirely work-from-home.
In these positions, you’ll get to use your testing skills to develop exam questions for your course. Albeit, there’s a lot more to the job than just writing test questions. You’ll need to develop curriculum, give lectures, mentor students, and grade assignments, as well.
Develop and sell and online courses
Online courses come in all flavors. Some are nothing more than a few poorly scripted videos and some worksheets. Others, though, are on par with the quality of a for-credit course at a professional school. If there’s a topic you’re an expert on and that you’re passionate about, why not teach others about it?
Exams, quizzes, and pre- and post-tests can add significant value to the main material for your online course. These help course enrollees to take the course seriously and solidify what they’ve learned.
Read medical literature with a critical eye
Continuously reaping the benefits of your standardized testing acumen doesn’t require committing to a side gig or extra work. You can take advantage of your skillset in your daily work as a physician. As you keep abreast of advances in your field, read the medical literature with the same critical eye with which you used to read test prep and exam questions. Mentally highlight the relevant points and determine the key takeaways.
You’ll become a better clinician, teacher, and scholar.
If none of these appeals to you, that’s okay too. Knowing you’ve passed all the exams needed to be a licensed practitioner might be reward enough for all the effort you put into preparing for them. In that case, go forth and practice medicine.