Should I take a gap year before medical school? It is one of the most common questions many high school graduates ask. Many high school students complete their undergraduate degree and apply to medical school. While some students decide to take a gap year between undergraduate study and medical school.
The trend of taking a gap year before medical school is increasingly common as more and more non-traditional medical school applicants show their interest in pursuing a career in medicine. Some students plan to take a break to improve their academic record, while some plan their gap year to create a strong medical school application.
If you are unsure whether to take a gap year before medical school or not, here are some important things to consider before you make this big decision.
Boost Your Academic Credentials
Taking a gap year gives you a chance to improve your grades and make you a successful medical student. A study suggests that students who take a break of a year or two secure impressive grades in university compared to those who get into university straight from high school.
Taking some time off studying will help you regain your focus and join the medical school with more energy and motivation. In addition, gap year also gives you a chance to secure strong grades and MCAT scores. Many medical schools prefer candidates with impressive academic profiles, a lower GPA or MCAT score will decrease your chances of acceptance. You can enroll in gap year programs, post-baccalaureate programs to boost your GPA. Preparing for the MCAT and retaking the test to improve your score is another great idea to spend the gap year.
Securing Strong Letters of Recommendation
Submitting two to three letters of recommendation is one of the most important medical school admission requirements. It will make your profile impressive and bolster your chances of acceptance. Taking a gap year will give you an excellent opportunity to gain valuable clinical experience. You can do summer jobs, internships, participate in research projects, shadow a physician, work as a medical scribe, or perform volunteer work.
Besides gaining experience, you can make stronger connections with doctors, professors, researchers, healthcare staff, in short, people you work with. It helps you secure better letters of recommendation that you can use to strengthen your medical school application.
Polish Your Skills
Many potential medical school applicants can use a gap year to build important skills required to become a competitive applicant. For instance, you can improve your communication and leadership skills by working on a research project. You can also find internship positions in hospitals and medical centers to gain hands-on experience.
You can also spend the gap year working in the field that is not directly related to your future career, but you have always wanted to do. Whether you want to cook your favorite dishes, learn a new language, raise your cultural awareness, or help underprivileged students. You will get the opportunity to improve your communication skills, boost confidence and broaden your horizons. If truth be told, a gap year is a great opportunity to build and hone important life skills that will help you become a great physician
Complete Medical School Prerequisites
A gap year gives you enough time to fulfill all medical school prerequisites. Medical school applicants have to score a good GPA in all the prerequisite courses that are required to complete before applying to medical school. Many students think that taking biological courses is enough to become a competitive medical school applicant. However, it is not the case.
Many medical schools require students to complete biology, chemistry, physics with lab work, in addition with social sciences, humanities and mathematics. Taking a break from study can give you enough time to complete all the prerequisite courses and become a strong applicant.
Gain Valuable Work Experience
During a gap year, you can gain experiences that you can discuss in your medical school interview. Try hard to gain research experience, hands-on clinical experience and volunteering experience. If you get the opportunity to work in a lab or teaching opportunity, you should definitely consider a gap year before enrolling in medical school.
Getting work experience will make your application stand out from the crowd and impress the medical school admissions committees. So, strengthen your experience during the gap year to convince the admissions committee that you are ready for a career in medicine.
Regain Focus and Make a Mature Decision
Taking a break from studying is a sensible decision if you are facing academic burnout or mental health issues. Prioritizing your mental health is important to become a successful medical student and eventually a good medical doctor. If you are feeling exhausted and burn out, how can you focus on your studies and deal with the rigorous medical school course load?
Therefore, it is advised to take a study break before you apply to medical school and regain your focus and mental energy to better prepare for the challenging medical school journey. Keep in mind that medical school is full of academic challenges, make sure you are in the right mental state to deal with the stress of medical school. You can regain your focus and relax your mind by involving in activities you love most.
Taking a gap year before getting into medical school can help many students to prepare for a lengthy application process and rigorous medical school journey. It gives you enough time to explore your interests, gain valuable experience, improve your medical school application and become a competitive applicant. However, it is not always the best choice for every student. You need to consider each and every option to figure out should I take a gap year before starting medical school. It will help you make a well-informed decision and choose the right type of education and career you want to pursue.