Gap Year Before Medical School?
There are many things to consider when deciding whether to take a gap year before medical school. Members of our team here at Cracking Med Admissions have taken various routes to address this question, and one of the main factors to consider is what excites you right now. If you’re excited and energized to attend medical school, then you should enroll right away. If you are ready to go straight to medical school, it is absolutely appropriate to do so if you feel that your application is competitive enough to apply to medical school. Some advisors may suggest taking a gap year before medical school to bolster your application if your GPA/MCAT score may not be the most competitive or your application could benefit from additional experiences demonstrating your passion and interest in medicine. It is important to consider what other options are out there so that when you do start medical school, you aren’t left wondering:
“What if I had done… X?” Moreover, depending on the school, you may have the option of deferring admission if a compelling opportunity comes up.
If, however, you are brimming with wanderlust or you have a passion project you’re itching to work on, by all means, take a gap year before medical school! For example, one undergraduate student asked us recently if he should take time off to start a health education & media company with his advisor at MIT. At the end of the day, medical schools aren’t going anywhere, but you have the world to explore! Take a gap year before medical school to showcase your talents. This will only make your application stronger once you do apply to medical school. Not only will you be a more mature applicant but you will also have more experiences to contribute as a medical student.
Activities people at Cracking Med Admissions have took a gap year before medical school
Clinical Research: Research is a great way to demonstrate your interest in medicine and gain experience that other entering medical students may not necessarily have. Some possibilities include: direct patient encounters, regular interaction with physicians, and the golden opportunity to work on publications. Posters, publications, and abstracts, can be very important in your application to medical school and help boost your application. Additionally, your experience in clinical research can help you design and spearhead your own projects when you are a medical student.
Global Health Work: Traveling is a great for a gap year before medical school. A global perspective is both invaluable and often necessary to understand people and cultures in this increasingly globalized world. One of our authors here at Cracking Med Admissions went to the Philippines to do research on vaccinations in middle-income countries. She learned how religious beliefs could influence the decision of patients receiving vaccines.
Private Sector Work Experience: The private sector is a great place to gain experience working on teams, developing maturity and communication skills, and polishing your level of professionalism. Believe it or not, there are plenty of opportunities in the private sector that have direct or ancillary connections to medical school and the healthcare industry. Healthcare consulting and healthcare technology companies are great places to develop a sense of what you want to do, while working on interesting projects and creating groundbreaking products.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to take a gap year before medical school is yours. One is not necessarily better than the other, but the important thing is to make a difference and use the gap year before medical school to make the largest impact possible. If you don’t decide to take time off before medical school, you can always take time off and pursue an interest while you’re in medical school.
Feel free to email us with any questions about taking a gap year before medical school!