Taking a gap year before medical school provides you with a great opportunity to accomplish a lot as a premed. In today’s episode, we’ll cover some great gap year ideas.
So, what should you do during a gap year? And what shouldn’t you do during a gap year?
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[00:25] What is a Gap Year?
If you’re looking to take a gap year before medical school, you’re probably not following the “traditional” timeline. You’re probably not applying right at the beginning of your senior year to hopefully go straight into medical school as soon as you graduate. With the traditional timeline, you don’t have a gap year—you just go right into medical school.
This means you’re going to have a year between when you graduate college to when you start medical school. That’s your gap year: You’re not in college anymore, but you’ve got a year until medical school starts. So what do you do in that year?
[01:09] What You Should Do During Gap Year
The first thing to keep in mind is to not think it’s just a free year where you can go do whatever you want.
You are applying to go to medical school. So you’re telling the admissions committees that you want to be a doctor. If you spend your gap year backpacking through France, you’re not demonstrating that to them.
A lot of students spend their gap year doing research or clinical experience or shadowing. You can do things like scribing or being an EMT. Volunteer at a hospice or in hospital settings. Work as a CNA. If you’re involved in clinical settings, that’s going to be a great way to spend your gap year.
[Related episode: What Jobs Should I Do During My Gap Year?]
[02:45] Do You Need to Work in the Medical Field During Your Gap Year?
No, you don’t need to work in the medical field during your gap year before medical school. It actually depends on your situation. You could work a non-clinical job. But stay plugged into the medical world.
Don’t go the whole year without shadowing, volunteering, or some sort of clinical experience. Having a big gap in your clinical experience is going to look bad. It’s going to look like you don’t really want to pursue medicine because, when you had a year off from school, you decided not to stay connected to medicine at all.
[Related episode: Your Gap Year Job Doesn’t Matter.]
[03:40] Continuity is Key
Don’t fall into the mistake of thinking that you already have enough hours, so you don’t need to do any more shadowing or clinical experiences.
You don’t need to rack up hundreds of hours. You don’t need to be shadowing and volunteering with every spare moment. But if you have at least a couple of hours every month, that’s the continuity they’re looking for.
It’s very important to show the admissions committee that you’re still plugged into this world. This shows them that this is really what you want to do. You’re still immersing yourself in it, and that’s the important part.
So, to summarize—just stay plugged in. Stay current with all of your shadowing and clinical experience and everything else. Then whatever else you do will be okay. You can do whatever you want on top of that during your gap year.
Links and Other Resources
- Check out my Premed Playbook series of books (available on Amazon), with installments on the personal statement, the medical school interview, and the MCAT.
- Related episode: Develop Your Patient Skills During Your Gap Year.
- Related episode: Should You Take a Gap Year Before Medical School?
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