Advice: Gap Year or Not for IM/Academic Career

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Is it worth it taking a gap year for top IM Programs?

  • Yes

    Votes: 3 33.3%
  • No

    Votes: 6 66.7%

  • Total voters


New Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2018
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Hi all, for a while I've been thinking about taking a gap year. My ultimate goal is to have a clinical research-oriented career where I perform clinical trials in an IM sub-specialty. I've always thought that it'd make sense to develop research skills and try to attend research institutions with as much resources as possible. I'm currently at a mid tier institution with not much research going on (I've talked to almost everyone in the dept) and the project I'm working on is going kind of slow. I thought it might be helpful to gain research experience at an intensive program (ie. NIH or Sarnoff) to gain necessary research skills. I should say that I am currently an M3 in c/o 2022 without a grade for IM yet.

Below are some of my thoughts about this decision

1. Gain more experience while I can. I fear that gap years in residency don't really happen aside from a chief year. I also think it might be hard to do research outside case reports in residency, but I could be making incorrect assumptions.I imagine if I am lucky to be a chief I will be rather busy with clinical oversight duties. I am already considering a masters during fellowship so I would use this med school gap year to gain even more experience. I really want to gain as much exposure and credentials I can before I submit my first faculty application.
2. Have years "to blow." Didn't take a gap year after college and subsequently got waitlisted at a bunch of T20s. I see a gap year as a way to spend a year off that I can afford and have a better chance at T20 residencies.
3. Possibly gain more publications. Currently have 0 with a few manuscript drafts going on.

1. Uncertainty if Step 1 will lose value during the match for c/o 2023. I got a competitive step 1 score (high 240s).
2. Uncertainty if gap year will truly help in IM. I know for certain these national programs will help in getting a competitive specialty, but unsure if Top 10 IM programs, which can be very incestuous to peer med schools, will bat a significant eye to this when it comes to matching applicants.
3. I am starting a parallel clinical research project at a leading research institution. If I get sufficient mentorship here, getting a mentor through a year-off program may not be needed
4. Accrual of loans, loss of clinical knowledge, and loss of 1 year attending salary. These are three 3 things I've always known I'd get with a gap year, so this is the least important con to me. Still single so losing years of getting my life together as a 20 something when I can be paying off loans, finding someone can hurt me though.

thanks in advance :)

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Last edited:
Bump. Probably leaning toward a gap year. Would love to hear thoughts folks might have, particularly from anyone who's done a research year at a national program or who's recently applied to IM
Not that I know much about the IM match, but I don't think I've ever heard of someone taking a year for the specialty. I feel like the top programs would look at that and be unimpressed. But take with some NaCl.