My schedule is taxing; at least, during the school year. This summer I am working and volunteering to make use of my time. In the spare hours, I’m moonlighting as a medical participant for fun and profit.
Finding the Right Studies
As a graduate student in psychological sciences, I was aware of the ever present research studies at my university. When I first considered participating, I thought about needles, genetic testing, and doses of untested medications. While some participation opportunities focus on this more invasive, dangerous region of research to gain FDA acceptance, another batch aims to look at physical health, mental functioning, and performance. This is the sweet spot. Over the course of two weeks, I’ll make an extra $200 by participating in two studies about gambling behaviors and testing my audio-visual abilities – no smallpox required.
Where to Volunteer
Universities and research institutions are constantly looking for “volunteers” that will be compensated for their “time.” The trick is finding studies that are applicable to you and fit into your schedule. Clinical research opportunities request some basic criteria (i.e., age, sex, race, etc.) and then specify what will be studied. With my busy schedule, medical participation for compensation is the perfect extra income. I don’t need to have any time commitments that overlap schedules and researchers are generally flexible. By gaining access to medical participation boards, you can begin to search for research. At my local university, there are a variety of different sites with opportunities. Dentistry, psychiatry, medical, and psychology all have public research wings for participants.
The largest, nationwide database can be accessed at ClinicalTrials.gov. The website contains 146,871 studies in 50 states and 184 countries.
The Student Body
The strangest part: I’m not alone. More and more students are turning to medical participation – for better and for worse – to pay their student loans and credit card debt. One student, Ken Ilgunas, made $391 by participating in MRI studies while a graduate student at Duke University. While contributing to science and making a buck is a generally a win-win, consider the risks involved before signing away your mental or physical health.