Medical School Admissions: Taking a Year Off After Your Under Graduate Degree? What to Do in That Year
The energy required to complete an under graduate premed degree is significant and leaves many students yearning for just one year off. The question is what to do in that year? Below are a few ideas that might forward your goals while giving you a much needed respite.
ER Scribe: Being an ER scribe is a great way to spend the year between completing an under graduate degree and beginning your medical school studies. It involves shadowing an ER doctor and taking notes as he or she interacts with patients. It allows the doctor to more fully focus on the patient and it gives you exposure to real-life medical situations.
Being an ER scribe also offers a real-world understanding of anatomy and physiology as well as giving you experience in medical note taking – an important skill for medical school and your future career in medicine. The pay and benefits vary from state to state, but some offer full-time, one year paid positions with benefits.
Research: Unless you’re already involved in a research project of your own, a year isn’t really sufficient time to complete a project that will wow the admissions committee; however it is enough time to be a contributing member of someone else’s research project. If you decide to spend a year in research, choose a topic which interests you. Remember, you’re going to have to talk about why you took a year off in both your applications and your interviews.
Some students find the EuroScholars research and study abroad program satisfies both their desire to travel and their desire to do research. In addition, it gives you more real world experience by expanding your exposure to various countries and cultures.
Study for MCAT: Some students feel they need more than a summer to sufficiently prepare for the MCAT. If that’s the case with you, you might consider spending a year preparing for this crucial exam. Consider making the most of your studies by volunteering in a medically related setting where you might be able to apply some of what you’re learning.
Volunteer: If you’re short of volunteer hours taking a year off to recover from the intensity of your premed studies can provide you with an opportunity to beef up those hours. Look for volunteer opportunities which you’re passionate about or which are in a medical setting – or both.
Work: Some students find that the prospect of heading straight to medical school with its steep tuition is a bit daunting. For this reason, some choose to spend a year working, living frugally, and saving up before heading to medical school.
Taking a year off before heading to medical school is a great way to get some real life experience, test your commitment to pursuing a degree in medicine, and to catch your breath. You might choose to do research, study for the MCAT, beef up your volunteer hours, or simply work. Of course, you could choose some combination of these, but be sure you’re ready to answer the question of why you chose to take year off on your application and during the interview process.
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“Great insight into how to improve my med school application and how to distinguish myself from the rest.” UTA student