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Make Money Participating in Medical Research Studies

Updated on May 9, 2014

Earn Money Doing Clinical Trials

Recently I participated in a clinical trial, and I found it to be so interesting. And if you're a healthy person who voluntarily participates in these medical research studies, let me tell you, you are paid well.

Before the medical research study began, at the physical, I asked the doctor for permission to share my experience. I said I'd like to write about it online in an article. The doctor said as long as I didn't name the drug that was being tested, it would be fine.

So, here are the ground rules: I'm not going to give specifics about any of the study. Not about the drug, the facility, the staff, or other participants, but I imagine all of the clinical trials or medical research studies follow similar procedures.

It's my hope that this article might help you decide if making money doing clinical studies is for you.

Image Credit: The Graphics Fairy

Earn Money as a Lab Rat - Get Paid to Participate in Clinical Trials

After signing up for numerous drug studies and participating from start to finish in two, I wrote an ebook about my personal experiences. Check it out on Amazon.

Earn Money as a Lab Rat: How You Can Do Clinical Trials and Get Paid Thousands!
Earn Money as a Lab Rat: How You Can Do Clinical Trials and Get Paid Thousands!

Yes, I wrote the book on earning money as a lab rat. Check it out here!



Each clinical trial or drug study will have specific criteria that you must meet, including the following factors:

~ age

~ sex

~ height and weight

~ smoker/nonsmoker

Other criteria may be used

to pick candidates for a study.

New Undies for the Study

Did you mom tell you to wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident? Well, same goes for when you do a drug study. Why not get some new undies and feel fresh as a daisy at the drug study?

Meet the Study Criteria

  1. Sex: Some studies are open to men and women. Some are for men only, some for women only.
  2. Age: Many studies are open to 18 to 55 year olds. Others have a cut off at 45. Other clinical trials need older adults.
  3. Height and Weight: BMI (body mass index) is calculated using height and weight. A max of 30 is needed for many studies though a few are higher, which allow heavier people to qualify.
  4. Smoker/nonsmokers: Some studies require volunteers/participants to be nonsmokers. This means you currently do not smoke. Others allow smokers to participate.


Levels of screening:

~ Fill out the online questionnaire

at facility's Web site.

~ If you generally meet the qualifications for a study, you can preregister or you might get a call from the research staff. You're then screened over the phone.

~ If you meet the guidelines, you are given

a date and time to go to the facility for a screening.

Screening -- My Experience

  1. I showed up early (I think they recommended 10 to 15 minutes) for my screening appointment. I signed the log in sheet, was given a health history to complete, and waited in the lobby until I was called.
  2. A small group of us were taken to a room where a staff member reviewed the guidelines so we knew what to expect if we were chosen for the drug study. Everything was spelled out so we knew what the study was for.

    Mine was drug testing so we would be taking medicine. Some drugs are injected (with a needle) and some are taken orally (swallowed). Ours was orally.

    We signed the paperwork, which allowed them to continue with the screening.

  3. We were then taken to an area with several stations:

    ~ urine (yes, we had to give a urine sample)

    ~ height and weight (this is where I thought I'd get rejected for having a BMI over the limit, but I made it!)

    ~ temperature

    ~ blood draw

    ~ review of health history paperwork

  4. We were told to call in a few days later for our results. We'd either be out or in. If in, we'd have to come back for an ECG and a physical with the doctor.

    I called back and was in! They told me when to come for the ECG and physical.

  5. At the second screening visit, I was told everything checked out and when to show up for the study, which included a stay of several nights at the clinic.


Restrictions for Clinical Trials

  1. Each study is different. Find out what you can and can't eat or consume to qualify. Remember, everything you take in, comes out (and shows up in urine or blood).
  2. Fasting is often required before the screening visits and before check in. We also were required to fast during the study. I think the longest was 14 hours, but it was okay.
  3. Here are some of the common restrictions -- things you can't have before and during the study:

    ~ caffeine (coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, etc.)

    ~ alcohol

    ~ tobacco and nicotine products

    ~ prescription medicines

    ~ OTC (over the counter) medicines or vitamins, herbs, etc.

    ~ certain food restrictions, depending on each study

  4. Here are some of the common restrictions -- things you can't do before, during, and possibly after the study:

    ~ donating blood

    ~ exercising strenuously

    Using adequate birth control to prevent pregnancy during the study and for a specified time after the study is complete is important, as well, for both men and women.

What I Had to Give Up to Do a Drug Study

I love coffee but had to give it up 72 hours before the drug study. In fact, I couldn't have any caffeine until the end of the study (including chocolate).

I use Black Cohosh for hot flashes. I had to give that up too. No vitamins or herbs or minerals or pain relievers. Basically, no nothing!

What You Can and Can't Take to the Drug Study

Permitted Items for Drug Studies - You CAN Take These Items

  1. You Can Take These Items (But Check Your Study To Be Sure):

    ~ pajamas, slippers

    ~ shower shoes

    ~ toothbrush, plain unflavored dental floss

    ~ razor

    ~ underwear (panties, bras, undershirts, socks)

    ~ small book light/flashlight

    ~ reading material, books, magazines, puzzle books, etc.

    ~ laptops, tablets, cell phones and chargers (I forgot my cell phone charger, and my phone's so old that no one had one I could use! Live and learn!)

    ~ hobby material

  2. You Cannot Take These Items (But Check Your Study To Be Sure):

    ~ food, drink, gum, mints, empty water bottles

    ~ toiletries (they provided shampoo, soap, deodorant/antiperspirant, toothpaste)

    ~ extra clothes (you wear scrubs that they provide during the day)

Sleepwear for Overnight Stays - at a Medical Research Study

Required Activities Are Called Events

Events are planned study activities and include checking participants' vital signs, ECGs, blood draws, nurse and/or doctor checks, taking the study drug, etc.

You'll be given an armband with your study number and a bar code to wear the entire time. Before each event, a technician scans the bar code.

What Do You Do at a Clinical Trial Exactly?

An Example Day During a Drug Study

  1. Events are scheduled including when you wake up and go to sleep (lights out). Of course those two things, especially the go to sleep part depend on if you can fall asleep exactly at 11:00 p.m. I can't.
  2. Roughly, in a day, you wake up. Give a urine sample. Brush teeth, shower, whatever you have time for. Many people showered in the middle of the day when we had a large chunk of open time.
  3. Lay down for ECG tabs to be applied. Rows of portable massage tables are set up for these events.
  4. ECG, vital signs, blood draw.
  5. Free time. Here are some ways to kill time during a drug study: a TV or two, a landline telephone for local calls (or long distance with a calling card), and a few desktop computers were provided. This is typical, I believe, but you'll find out exactly what is available to use at your particular study.

    Some people played charades, board games, put together puzzles, talked, read, napped, etc.

    Many others took laptops and worked or watched movies or played games between events in their free time.

  6. Lunch about 12:45 p.m.
  7. Blood draw.
  8. Talk to nurse about how you're feeling (adverse effects).
  9. Free time.
  10. Dinner about 5:45 p.m.
  11. Free time.
  12. Evening snack about 8:15 p.m.
  13. Lights out 11:00 p.m.

Return Visits May Be Part of the Clinical Trial

Be sure to show up on time for return visits.

Recently I learned that a fellow participant in a clinical trial had been late several times for returns.

They "docked" his pay

several hundred dollars for tardiness.

Laptops, Tablets, and iPads to While Away the Hours - Work, Study, Watch Movies, or Play Games

Often there is a lot of down time at a medical research study. You have literally hours to spend between events. Take along a laptop or iPad or other device to use to make that time fly by!

Food and Sleep

Meals and Snacks

Meals and snacks are also events.

The armband is scanned

before and after meals and snacks.

The percentage of your meal that you ate is recorded by a technician.

Eating and Sleeping at a Clinical Trial

  1. Food: All of your food is provided at the clinical trial. You cannot bring anything with you including food, gum, mints. Nothing.

    I had higher hopes for what we'd be served. It was "cafeteria" food, to put it nicely.

    So, I ate what I liked and left what I didn't. Each meal was somewhat well balanced with protein, vegetable, fruit, starch, and fat.

    Some of the better meals were the ones that included ground beef tacos with rice, chicken fillet sandwich with potato salad, and a chicken/noodle/cheese casserole with a cookie for dessert.

  2. Food: During the study that I did, we were not required to eat everything we were served. Some studies require participants to eat everything and sometimes in a timed fashion (within exactly 30 minutes, for example).
  3. Food: Some days we had to fast and only were served lunch, dinner, and an evening snack.

    Other days we got breakfast, lunch, dinner, and an evening snack.

  4. Sleep: We were assigned rooms and beds. The rooms were dorm style and had several bunk beds in each room. I luckily got a bottom bunk because I have to get up and go to the restroom several times a night. I wasn't looking forward to falling out of bed!
  5. Sleep: Ear plugs are my new best friend. My bed was against a wall that shared a wall with the women's restroom. I could hear each toilet flush and paper towel that was yanked from the dispenser, until I tried the ear plugs they provided. What a difference! At home I use a sound machine (white noise machine) for noise, but I was told not to bring it.

    Not all studies provide ear plugs, so I'd recommend taking along a few pairs. I also wore the ear plugs during the day when the TV out in the common area was loud and I could hear it while trying to read in my room.

  6. Sleep: The mattresses were plastic covered. To make them less noisy and cold, one of my roommates who is an old pro at doing clinical trials said she always takes the bottom sheet off and puts a blanket down then puts the bottom sheet back on. I tried it and it was much more comfortable.

Sleep Aids for Restful Sleep - Help for Making It Quiet and Dark

Shower Shoes - You'll Be Using a Public Shower so Shower Shoes Are a Must.

If you are required to stay overnight for the paid medical study, a pair of shower shoes is a must.

Getting Paid for Clinical Trials

The pay varies depending

on the drug study.

Stipends range from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Recent studies I've seen have paid $900 to $7,000 (sometimes more, sometimes less).

Weigh the Risks and Benefits

Only you can decide whether volunteering to participate in a drug study is for you.

Most people in my study were old time "lab rats." They consider it a part time job and reported no serious side effects from the studies they had done.

Find Clinical Studies in Your Area

The first step is to search for clinical studies

in your area.

Search "your city name" and "clinical trials" or "paid medical study" and check out the results.

Affiliate Disclosure

This author, Peggy Hazelwood, participates in Amazon, eBay, All Posters, and other affiliate advertising programs. When you click an advertising link on this page and make a purchase, I receive a small percent of the sale. Thank you for reading this far!

Share Your Thoughts on Clinical Trials Here - Have you participated? Was it a good or bad experience?

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    • profile image

      gopal Chandel 

      3 years ago

      I m from Ahmedabad I want to address on ahmedabad clinical reachers

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Ah, I actually had a lens about my experience, but, it was the one and only lens that got locked!! Megan told me that it was about a pharmaceutical -- so I changed the lens and didn't mention anything about the specifics of that study. How about that? I really wished I would have gone further in that particular study.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Being a doctor. It's great to see. I am not aware about this before.

      thanks @ scarlettohairy

    • OUTFOXprevention1 profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for the lens.

    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 

      5 years ago

      Goodness, I don't know if I'd have the nerve to become a lab rat, but the money is tempting!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Excellent lens! If you are looking for clinical studies that pay well you can search,, or!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice article! I have found clinical studies that pay well at There are a lot of clinical trial database websites but Clinical Trials For You is my favorite one.

    • DRSandAssociate1 profile image


      5 years ago

      Wow, what a great journal of this type of study, sounded like a positive experience. Fantastic lens!

    • Scarlettohairy profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      @anonymous: Thanks for sharing your story. I hope the study I did helps medical research too. You never know, of course, but I felt totally safe doing it.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I was part of a clinical trial for an additive to hormone replacement therapy to prevent endometriosis. I would go in monthly for a check up and to receive the medicine and calcium I was to take daily. Blood tests were done quarterly.

      One of the tests taken to determine if I qualified was beyond uncomfortable. The test needed to be repeated at the end of the year, and was much easier the second time. Everything else was a breeze, and the $600 check was kinda nice too.

      But the best part was when a client found out about it and thanked me for doing it. Thanked me! Turns our she had had endometriosis, when she was younger, and had to have a hysterectomy. She said I was a hero.

      You just don't know how much good you can do by being a part of a clinical trial, or how many people will have a better life because you volunteered.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      They have a lot of these in the Orlando area. One of my neighbors participates regularly. I think they pay quite well.


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