Nov 15, 2020
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Hey all - I'm 3 years post-grad (not super non-trad I realize, but thought I'd post here since my question is about post-grad life & applying with gap years). I was pre-PA/ considering other paths for the past two years, then this fall finally decided I want to go for med school. I'd really hoped to apply this cycle, but my application isn't particularly special and has one major hole (which I'll get to), and I'm starting to accept that my chances are slim this year, vs. could be much better next cycle if I make good use of this year. Now I'm 25, looking at the next 2.5+ years (until hopefully med school) stretching out in front of me, wondering what do I do for the next two years? I have a lot of ideas, but thought I'd also reach out and see what others have done and found meaningful. Main questions:
  1. What are the most rewarding things you've done in your post-grad years? (Especially curious about jobs, volunteering, post-bacs/ grad programs)
  2. Is there anything you did in your post-grad years that you especially don't recommend to other premeds?

And if anyone feels inclined to give personalized advice, my stats/info:
- Academics: Top 20 school, cGPA: 3.62, sGPA: 3.36, significant upward curve. Finished with all premed requirements
-+ community college post-bac classes: cGPA: 3.65, sGPA: 3.45​
- MCAT: Taking in April for the first time. by then I'll have studied for 6 months almost full-time, really aiming high
- Undergrad ECs: D3 athlete all 4 years, athletic committee team rep Junior/Senior years, chair of my academic major committee Senior year, small role in a school publication all 4 years, very small amount of research, first 2 years in a music group, ~50 hour academic internship as a teacher's aide in the community (but I'd be wary to call this volunteering because it was for academic credit?). Only a few hours of volunteering here and there. (I'm aware my ECs are very unimpressive)
- Post-grad: 1 year work as a general practice scribe, >1 year work as a psychiatric tech in a hospital. Few hours volunteering here and there.
- No shadowing experience (looking to shadow soon as I can, but hoping my scribing experience mostly makes up for it)
- Hobbies: Totally in love with a specific outdoor hobby, and knitting
- Other life things: Not married, no kids. I've been living at home with family rent-free since graduating, which has allowed me to pay off all my student debt + save a small amount. I could potentially keep living at home until med school, but I'd love to move out of my childhood bedroom before I turn 28 😅

The one thing preventing me from applying this cycle is my lack of any real volunteer experience, so building that is my #1 priority. currently applying for things, planning to start volunteering asap & stick with 1-2 volunteer positions consistently over a long time. Other things I'm thinking about doing/looking for:

- A full-year volunteering program -- struggling to find programs open during the pandemic
- Entry-level public health job (most interested in this idea)
- Entry-level clinical research job -- I'm not sure if this would actually help my application much, since (knowing myself & my lack of experience in research) I'm not likely to get my name on any papers
- Clinical job in a new environment, e.g. medical assistant
- Masters-level grad programs -- I don't want to take on debt, but wondering if this is necessary with my low sGPA
- Find a job related to my outdoorsy passion, just to live a bit. This is my favorite option, but I'm not sure if my very average application can afford it.

Sorry if that's way too much info; thanks for any thoughts!
 
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deleted1085158

This is something you should worry about after you take the MCAT. If you score really high, you'll get in with some shadowing.

If the score is low, you ain't going to med school.
 
Jan 15, 2020
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I did both Peace Corps and AmeriCorps during my gap years (I'm a non-trad, so neither was to try to gain admission to medical - just stuff I was interested in). I've also been working in public health since COVID started. I loved both my Peace Corps and my AmeriCorps experiences. I will say, Peace Corps is on hold right now, but there are plenty of AmeriCorps positions open across the country. The pay isn't the best, but you can have a part-time job in the off hours, and if you do VISTA rather than State/National, they pay relocation. Let me know if you have any questions! I found my VISTA experience extremely rewarding - I was a VISTA at an FQHC look-alike.
 
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Nov 15, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
I did both Peace Corps and AmeriCorps during my gap years (I'm a non-trad, so neither was to try to gain admission to medical - just stuff I was interested in). I've also been working in public health since COVID started. I loved both my Peace Corps and my AmeriCorps experiences. I will say, Peace Corps is on hold right now, but there are plenty of AmeriCorps positions open across the country. The pay isn't the best, but you can have a part-time job in the off hours, and if you do VISTA rather than State/National, they pay relocation. Let me know if you have any questions! I found my VISTA experience extremely rewarding - I was a VISTA at an FQHC look-alike.
Thanks, this is super helpful! I've definitely been looking into AmeriCorps, but trying to do a lot of research before applying, based on how much peoples' experiences with AmeriCorps seem to vary by program. Do you have any tips on selecting a program, or 'green flags'/ 'red flags' to look out for in terms of avoiding poorly-managed programs? I'm interested in public health, so have been looking into a few VISTA programs -- any major pros/cons of the VISTA experience specifically?
 

8YearsLate

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Re: this:
  1. Is there anything you did in your post-grad years that you especially don't recommend to other premeds?
I couldn't really help the circumstances (lots of unexpected snowball issues) but I really wish I'd have saved more money. In Summer 2019 before the snowball started, I was about $2k away from being debt-free, and this past 18 months has completely decimated that. I will be entering medical school with substantial financial pressure and I haven't gone without income since I was 15 years old, so I'm panicking a little about all that. It would be really nice to have some cushion in the bank. I know a lot of people talk about travelling and taking time of work in gap years, but unless you're deeply yearning to do those things or have money to burn, I think my best advice would be to work overtime, pay off any debt, save some money, and get some passive investments going. You'll thank yourself later when you can afford the occasional night out or massage after exams and students like me are eating ramen and taking 5-minute showers. :)

Edit: Also, if you have 2.5 years ahead of you, pick 1-2 volunteer positions you're passionate about and do them each 1 night a week. That's hundreds of volunteering hours without impacting work/other activities. That's how I did it, albiet during my post-bacc. My favorite was the ER, runner-up was homeless outreach. You could knit sweaters for the homeless. That would be awesome. My friend is a volunteer tour guide with her local hiking group. She became a Master Naturalist in her free time, another idea for you. Good luck!
 
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8YearsLate

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take courses that AAMC suggests and not courses your university advisor or you think would look good. IOW, Stick to basic science courses and avoid health science courses unless if listed on AAMC webpage.

See page 29 in 2021 AMCAS Applicant Guide section Course Classification Guide


find an angel investor. America has a great number of wealthy people. Look for them. Sell them on you. You’d be surprise how many of them truly desire to help people. I found one, former CEO of a couple of biotech companies, and now she/he is bankrolling my educational goals. Papers have been signed, terms have been articulated in writing, we are all very clear what the purpose is and what is expected from me.

it can happen. You just have to believe in yourself enough to put yourself out there. The most important marketing tool to promote your brand is you. Ditto for everything in life: dating, job interviews, medical school applications/interviews and financing your dreams.
This is an interesting thought. Do you have any obligations to them in terms of employment? i.e. What papers were signed? Thanks for your feedback.
 
Oct 15, 2019
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Hello! I am currently a National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps member and based on your post and your interests in public health, I would definitely recommend this program. The program is a 10.5 month program (August to July) focused on public health, health education, etc. There are several operating sites located nationwide in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Florida, and most recently Delaware. Members serve at different host sites around the area. My host site that I serve at is an addiction treatment center, but there are other members serving at hospitals (such as UF Health), some are at community clinics, YMCAs, elementary schools, etc. At my host site, I teach patients health and wellness education classes, facilitate activities for patients such as gardening and art. I also meet individually with patients to help connect them with resources around the area if they need them. What members do vary depending on their position and their host site. Members serve about 40 hours a week at their host sites (which are all non-profit organizations). The positions and host sites vary by location.

Just for some more specifics about the program:
- 1700 hours of direct service to medically underserved populations
- Living stipend of ~$1,200 a month (I know, not a lot, but the stipend is higher next year)
- Upon successful completion of the program, you receive an education award of over $6,000 that you can use towards existing student loans and future schooling
- Time off for holidays, personal days, and med school interviews
- Professional development and networking opportunities
- Monthly (or more) group service projects, including Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, homeless shelters, food banks, soup kitchens, sports for the developmentally or physically disabled. Members also definitely have time to volunteer on their own time as well, which can also count towards program hours! Many members volunteer individually at clinics, shelters, resource centers, etc. (And previously hospitals, but not so much with COVID)

Several members in the program have gotten interviews and acceptances to some really great programs (MD, DO, MPH, dental, etc) and it seems that interviewers have been really interested in their experiences as an NHC member!

Here is the website if you are looking for more information! National Health Corps
The website has a link to the application, but as of now it is still for 2020-2021 (this year), but we are going to start recruiting for next year in the next few weeks (probably late March or early April).

I don't want to make this post too long so if you or anyone has more questions or wants more details about the application, my experience, etc, feel free to reply or PM me! I'm happy to answer any questions :)
 
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