At some point in undergrad, all pre-meds or pre-health students are faced with a choice…go straight through or take a gap year. I made sure to put a lot of thought into this decision, as should all pre-health students. It was only logical to weigh the pros and cons and then compare them to my personal needs and agenda. Everyone has their own opinion on what you need to do during your gap year. I thought I had to do AB&C to make sure I was still a good applicant for med school. Luckily, my adviser gave me the best bit of advice I could have asked for. I told her of my plans of starting a blog, dreams of traveling, and wanting to save up some money along with all my worry of not having a laser focus on the “pre-med checklist”. Instead of telling me I shouldn’t stray from medicine in my time off, she encouraged me to “do what I really want to do” and so far…thats my plan.
(Note: this list is a guideline of what I found important for me, YOUR decision for a gap year needs to be based on what YOU feel you need, comment below with your thoughts!)
Pros: recharge, relax, TRAVEL, study for MCAT, make money to afford applications for med school, start a blog (check!), volunteer in South America, go to Europe, audition to be a Disney Princess??
–> OVERALL: take some time for me to refocus on why I choose this difficult path and to explore the world so I know for sure medicine is exactly what I want to do. I don’t want to have any regrets [I mean who doesn’t want to say they at least tried to be a Disney Princess!]
Cons: start med school a little later (and maybe wiser), possibly get distracted, trouble finding a stable job relating to medicine/field of interest for a year, where to live, etc.
–> OVERALL: worried about losing focus in the Gap Year, losing motivation
Once I had my list, I went to talk to my adviser. I’m very consistent with visiting my university advisers CONSTANTLY throughout 4 years and I highly advise pre-meds to keep in good contact with advisers. They have all the knowledge you need and if they’re honest and good then they truly want you to succeed and will give you the best-personalized advice they can. Plus, they know much more than your peers. [and I’ve been a pre-med mentor and head of pre-med clubs!]
After 4 years of heavy science class loads and full summer session of classes continuing straight out of high school I knew I was getting pretty tired. There were also so many aspects of life that I wanted to explore. I ended up deciding on taking 2 Gap Years. The first year, June – December, was to travel, study/take the MCAT, and follow all my crazy side dreams before heading off to pursue the main goal of becoming a doctor. The second year, starting January, I will be dedicating to applying to med school and saving up as much money as I can for the long haul.
I hope this helped! Follow my journey and get email updates whenever I post a new article by signing up in the “Follow Me!” section.
Keep up the hard work Future Doctors/PAs!!