Monday, March 7, 2011

My side job

I have a little extra semi secret side job.  I do MRI scans for money.

my actual brain!
For close to 2 years now I've been doing medical research for pay.  This isn't anything weird like taking crazy pills that aren't FDA approved or anything.  There are in fact no pills at all!  I participate in brain fMRI studies at one of the local major hospitals. They pay me $20-40/ hr to lie (and try not to fall asleep) in an MRI machine.

I usually do 1 every month or 2.  My average pay is about $45/scan but I once made $133 for 3.5 hours!  They also pay me for the time it takes to fill out the paperwork before and after.  I won't say the name of the program since a. I don't know their privacy policies and b. if you're local I don't want you taking studies/time slots I want!

There are no risks since MRIs are completely safe.  Inside the scanner they have me do simple tasks - look at pictures, test my reflex's and other simple games.  That's the research part of it.  It's really easy, although if you were claustrophobic you couldn't do it.  I assume most people haven't ever had an MRI and I'm here to tell you despite the loud noises and cramped conditions (for me) it's very easy to fall asleep.  Crazy huh?!  After an hour in the scanner I forcibly have to keep myself awake to do the tasks.  You're not allowed to move around inside - even a tiny bit, so it's easy to forget how small the space is.  
this makes it look way smaller than it is

Also you have to be normal, healthy, english speaking, often right-handed & between an age range.  Also you can't participate if you have any metal in your body.  Which you might think is weird but you're excluded from these studies if you've got/had things like: permanent retainers, many plastic surgeries, facial tattoos/permanent make up, pacemakers, permanent pins/staples from surgeries, colored contacts, shrapnel or bullet wounds, dentures, implants or medication patches with metal or if you've ever worked in a metal (grinding) factory.  I am lucky enough to have none of those.  So I get to participate.  --  You of course can't have any metal on you when you go - belts, shoes with metal, zippers, underwires etc.  I go in gym clothes since they're metal free (which lends the look like I'm about to go running after I made my $55 for the afternoon... even if I'm not). 

The benefits:  So besides the free non taxable cash on the spot, I get free vouchers for parking and can get copies of my scans!  Which is just a cool novelty really.  Although their policy is that if an MRI tech notices something abnormal they'll advise you to see a doctor.  The grad students and techs aren't allowed to medically advise you on anything.  Also females have to pass a pregnancy test each time regardless of relationship status (since MRI's while preggers are considered dangerous), so I guess you could consider that a benefit.

Anyone think they'd be brave enough or have a weird side job?


  1. That sounds awesome! How did you find that? This is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for these days...

  2. This is so funny! it seems like a good side job if you have the time and the patience to lie there!

  3. @BirdRoughsIt: I found it through my husbands' medical friends. Basically word of mouth.

  4. That sounds really neat. I have Cerebral Palsy, so I think it would be pretty awesome to see my brain function against a 'normal' brain.

  5. This is soo something I would do. I basically spent my entire undergraduate career making money as a guinea pig for various studies on campus. I think you've inspired me to continue my work as a lab rat.

  6. wow, i have never even heard of anything like this!

  7. AHHH! I haven't had an MRI since Middle School (I had daily headaches) but I am very claustrophobic. I can't imagine doing that! Well... I don't know...for money I might be able to overcome it!


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