Being able to balance school, service work, extracurricular activities and research is not a walk in the park. Now imagine adding the MCAT, med school apps and interviews and everything seems to be piling up on your shoulders. Taking a year to spend time working, volunteering, doing research, gaining medical experience or just to travel before medical school can be a great option for some applicants. You also don’t to burn yourself out because medical school is no joke and it is going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to get through. If you are not ready for it then it will eat you alive and that break could help you get your mind refreshed and back on track. The idea of a gap year is becoming more and more acceptable with every year. If you decide that taking a year off before med school is the best route for you, then spend some time working on areas that you aren’t that strong of a candidate in. This could also be a great opportunity to earn some money or fur ther develop some of your other interests. Taking some time to do stuff that you love and are passionate about before you go off to medical school is perfectly fine and many other people do it as well. Medical schools actually love to see that you are committed to helping people and staying active, while consistently doing things that will give you experience that will make you a better physician. For many people taking time off and do alternative options to gain experience or do something that will make them stand out when they apply to medical or another professional school is exactly what they need to get them into their ideal school.
If you really wanted to stand out then why not have an application detailing your experience in something that gave you a better perspective of the health field and more hands on experience in the field, because we all know that there is only so much that you can do as a volunteer at Carle or some clinic. There is a great deal of things that you can do on this gap year, the possibilities are endless. Just to list a few:
Research (getting paid or volunteering)
Clinical employment or volunteer work
Masters or other certification
Getting into the workforce
Post bacc research training programs
The list could go on and on but just make sure you are doing something that is going to help you and you can pretty much relate anything to the health field with the right wording in your application. Medical schools like to see variety and well-rounded people that have experience in various fields and areas. When you are in practice and trying to help a patient you are going to have to think outside the box and use your experiences and knowledge to help find out what is affecting the person and what do you have to do in order to help them, and it is not always as simple as looking some term up in a book. Maybe all of you want to go straight into med school and that is completely fine but some people may not be ready and still need some more experience that will give you that competitiveness on your application. Whatever you may decide to do after undergrad make sure you are applying to your schools when you feel most prepared and qualified to start the application process because you don’t want to go through it all twice.
Author: Lupe Garcia – LIP Philanthropy Chair