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Gap year 101

What is a Gap Year?

Gap year: a semester or year of experiential learning, taken after college and prior to medical and graduate school, in order to deepen one's practical, professional, and personal awareness

In recent years, gap years have become increasingly more common as students opt to take extra time to strengthen their application and skills before diving into more years of school.

Reasons to Consider Taking a Gap Year

  • You weren't able to have the volunteer or research opportunities you wanted during your undergraduate career

  • You are lacking medical experience which would strengthen your application and understanding of the field

  • If you applied to medical school traditionally and got rejected, but are still planning to reapply and pursue a career in medicine

  • You feel burnt out after years of dedicating yourself to so many activities + academics and need a breather

  • If you want to travel or volunteer abroad and didn't have the opportunity to do so during your undergraduate career

  • You are worried about your current and/or future debt and want to take some time to work, pay off debt, and/or save money

  • You want extra time to study and take/retake your MCAT for an improved score

  • You studied in undergraduate for a nontraditional (non-science) degree and are missing some prerequisites for the medical schools you're interested in

How to Take Advantage of Your Gap Year

  • Don't just sit around for the year, use this time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and strengthen your application

    • Often it can help to meet with a medical school admissions​ counselor who is willing to go over your application with you

    • It's okay to take a lighter schedule, though, if you feel burnt out

  • Find opportunities that interest you!

    • Find a more involved position in research now that you have your Bachelor's​

    • Go abroad and dedicate yourself to becoming more culturally competent and/or helping volunteer causes that are important to you

    • Continue to expose yourself to medicine

      • Work full-time in a hospital​

      • Shadow more doctors

  • Take more classes here and there to strengthen your GPA and show your dedication to the sciences

  • Retake your MCAT now that you have more time to study and prepare for it!

Choose one or more of the experiences listed above

and dive into them!

Personal Experiences/Advice


Carver COM

M.D. 2022

GAP YEAR OR NAH? Choosing to take a break between undergrad and medical school will NOT impede your ability to get into medical school! I know sometimes there may be some “stigma” floating around against taking a gap year, but do not fall into this trap! Gap years are VERY COMMON. A large majority of people in my class chose to take a break whether it was one gap year or even ten gap years. There were also many people who went to medical school straight after finishing undergrad. The decision to take a gap year or not can all be based on how ready you feel to start medical school, how confident you feel in your grades and application, what experiences you want to have prior to attending medical school, and how committed you are to attending medical school. I decided to take one gap year prior to applying to medical school for a few reasons: I wanted to spend more time volunteering in a clinic that I had recently gotten involved in and also get some solid lab research under my belt. I also wanted to further solidify my interest in medicine and specifically becoming a physician through more job shadowing and clinical experiences. Lastly, I just wanted to take some time to make money and travel and enjoy myself after graduation prior to starting up another four years of school. I do not regret taking a gap year one bit! In fact, taking a gap year was one of the most valuable things I could have done both academically and mentally, and ultimately was probably the reason I even got accepted into medical school.

Samiksha 2022.JPG

Gap year opportunities to build up profile: 

  • You will want to gain experiences in the medical field

    • Service hours, research experiences 

      • Examples: CNA, Phlebotomy, Research Assistant, Medical Scribe

  • Strengthening your academic ability 

    • Retaking coursework if needed

Career Center


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