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Gap Year Decisions/Options, please offer your advice SDN

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Smirkus, Jul 23, 2011.

?

Which Should I do?

  1. Columbia U Masters + $$$ Debt

    8 vote(s)
    33.3%
  2. Volunteer Bench Research, don't get paid

    10 vote(s)
    41.7%
  3. Risk not getting finding a job with EMT-B, make some $

    6 vote(s)
    25.0%
  1. Smirkus

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    About me/My stats: live in New York City. I just graduated from a highly regarded university with a BA. I am currently applying to medical school, and still need to figure out what I am doing during my gap year while I wait to get in somewhere
    Stats:33 MCAT, 3.5 GPA and SGPA
    ECS: Conference Presenter in Philosophy, 3 years Lab Research in same lab-if project continues (without me) I will be an author, participated in 1 year long and 1 summer long clinical research projects, had a few leadership positions, 1 year long volunteer position for underprivileged kids where I tutored and coached).

    There are similar posts up about what to do during the gap year, but there are a few things they do not focus on: Money versus Having a Worthwhile experience. Here are my options (and note I know, July is very late to be getting into all this)

    The Options
    1. I was essentially offered a spot in Columbia's Bioethics Masters Program for this upcoming year (1 year program), while doing volunteer research with a Cornell Medical Ethics Prof.

    Pros: Continues major work I did as an undergrad, the degree will further my career options after medical school, will be a fascinating experience for me, I can network with important people

    Cons: Adds potentially $55,000 of debt to my future $200,000-$250,000 of Med School debt that I will incur.

    2. Volunteer Bench Research in Molecular Biology at Hospital for Special Surgery or Cornell (I have a few volunteer offers already)

    Pros: Could be meaningful experience, may lead to an authorship, although it is only one year and it is difficult to do meaningful work in that period of time

    Cons: Will not get paid! Funding is so low now, it is impossible to get paid. Also, because I'm planning my gap year so late, it is too late for anyone who could pay me to set money aside

    3.Take EMT-B course to find a job in an ambulance/hospital as an EMT or ER Technician

    Pros: Would be great as experience, and expose me to things that will help me in med school, and give me stories for the med school interview

    Cons: Courses cost around $1,000 and last 3 months, so assuming I can find a job after the course (preferably as an ER Tech) I will only get to work until medical school starts, so figure only December-July (8 months)


    Thanks SDN for any input/advice. It means a lot, and will be very appreciated!
     
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  3. CodeBlu

    CodeBlu Dream Weaver
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    Option 1 for sure.
     
  4. option 1 sounds the best, i would do that if i were in your shoes

    3 sounds like the worst though
     
  5. jchap

    jchap Woo-Ha!
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    +1
     
  6. jchap

    jchap Woo-Ha!
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    On a related note, what should I have for lunch?

    1. A delicious cheeseburger

    2. A tree branch

    3. A bowl of raw sewage
     
  7. MrBananaGrabber

    MrBananaGrabber No Touching!

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    :thumbup: lol
     
  8. Smirkus

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    Sure, I see what you're saying and it's pretty obvious. Except, I've never been in debt before. I only intend on practicing as a pediatrician, and they don't make a ton. Thus, paying off at least $300,000 of loans right after medical school only makes it seem like I will be poor as hell until I'm 40 years old...
     
  9. CodeBlu

    CodeBlu Dream Weaver
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    C'est la vie
     
  10. ash914

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    As far as med school admissions go, why is Option 1 being so highly recommended over Option 2? Would getting that Master's really help that much, especially considering the monetary cost and the OP's already decent stats?

    Edit: Also, I have a friend taking a gap year after taking the EMT certification. He's had trouble finding jobs since the 1 year or less of commitment (with flexibility for interviews) really limits his options, so option 3 is probably the worst of the 3.
     
  11. CodeBlu

    CodeBlu Dream Weaver
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    Masters is something that you can add to a CV for residency apps.
     
  12. jchap

    jchap Woo-Ha!
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    Hey, I understand. I'm just saying that if you're a year-counter (which you appear to be), then you should probably take the option that is MOST likely to get you into med school ASAP. That would be #1.

    The other two options, by your own admission, might result in waiting another year and applying next cycle, i.e., not having that pediatrician's salary kick in until one year later.

    The loans are huge, to be sure. But what about the knowledge, connections, professional ethics and experience you'll gain from your entire Master's degree program (i.e., its actual content)? I hope you're not just thinking of it as a ticket to med school...
     
  13. km17

    km17 Annyong
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    +1. If the OP was lacking research, then my vote would have been for option #2, but 3 years is plenty by any standard.
     
  14. Smirkus

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    I almost take offense that I think of this as a "ticket" to medical school. Actually, I received an offer from someone I was talking to about volunteering in their medical ethics division who is on the advisory board for this program. I was told that I would be a great candidate for this Masters program, and he would talk to the Director about finding me a spot, despite the application deadline having passed in April. He made it seem very likely I would get in. The Masters would be a direct continuation of projects, research and education I started in undergrad.

    I would hop on the opportunity without thinking more about it, except that I don't quite know how to think about taking on $55,000 of debt that will be paid off along with medical school debt. I don't know what it's like to have a steady income, and to have major bills to pay. Thus, $55,000 of debt in addition to around $200-250k of debt is a lot, I don't know if on a resident's salary I will be able to afford paying 3-4k a month in loan repayment!
     
  15. aSagacious

    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

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    I disagree with the majority here.

    Why not option 1: Every AdCom member that I've ever spoken to says that a non-science masters program does nothing for your application. IMO it is not worth the price tag.

    Why not option 3: Don't do it if you're looking for clinical experience or $. Pre-hospital emergency medicine has very little in common with hospital medicine (as has been discussed exhaustively in prior threads). Additionally, if you are lucky enough to get a paid position within your gap year, you will be hard pressed to make back the cost of the certification with your low hourly wage (let alone cover the cost of living).

    My vote is for option 2. It is the most clinically relevant (even though you will not be paid). Perhaps your parents will be able to help you out with finances.
     
  16. Narmerguy

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    Glad it wasn't just me. I don't think option one offers nearly enough benefits for an additional $55,000. The masters programs are not as useful for medical school admissions as most people want them to be and they also have a nominal affect on residency applications. Most residency programs want applicants that have experience relevant to the field in which they are applying. A bioethics degree wouldn't really mean that much.

    For one gap year, remember that not much of what you actually do will impact your application since you'll be applying and interviewing almost completely before the halfway point. You don't want to accrue debt. A volunteer research position is a good way to show that you're staying active, still challenging yourself, and picking up some research experience to boot.

    I was surprised so many people thought option 1 was best.
     
  17. RookTookIt

    RookTookIt SDN Lifetime Donor
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    Totally agree with the previous two posters. I would do research. And might even do it only part time if I could also find a part-time job that was reasonable. Unless you're really lacking on a certain experience and want to update schools with some new stuff mid-season, I see no reason why you can't make some money and still show that you are doing some science-y stuff.
     
  18. VaBeachGrl007

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    Option 2. Though I have to say, I've been an EMT for over 2 years now, and most rescue squads pay for your EMT course after you join...In Virginia anyway lol.
     
  19. whatsupdoc49

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    I am doing option #3 if I don't get in this cycle. However, I do not have an option #1 or #2.
     
  20. 235788

    235788 God Complex
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  21. weezynation

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    OP, as you can see, although there have been quite a few people saying number 1, only one of them gave a reason why. They probably saw Cornell and got excited. As a few others have said, go with number 2. Someone above said it best about number 1...it's not gonnna do anything for your application and you will have another 50,000 in debt. Trust me, as someone who's been in the real world for a couple years after college, do not take that debt lightly just because it's a small amount considering the loans you will have for emd school. Number 3 I wont even speak about because it's the worst option. Number 2 is great because it is relevant, whereas number 1 is not. Good luck with your decision and congrats on these opportunities.
     
  22. Tapepsi

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    Option #1 I think is a horrible decision. $55 K? That's like an extra year of med school and it's not even going towards your MD. And you're right, becoming a pediatrician means that you will be struggling enough to pay off your debt. That extra amount is going to be a pain in the @ss.

    I would go with option #2 while getting a job on the side that doesn't require a degree or required courses (i.e. not EMT).
     
  23. 1TB4RKSB4CK

    1TB4RKSB4CK wussup doge
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    #2 is your best bet.
     
  24. YouNeverKnow22

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    Option 2 and get a job. I think getting a masters is useless unless you REALLY want it. The debt isn't worth the CV space.
     
  25. tn4596

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    well here are my 3 options
    1.get a decent job (prolly part-time). volunteer on the side (prolly 4 hr a week)
    2.vacation
    3.stay in the house playing vid games, go out and party when the oportunities arise.

    why work so hard on ur year off?
     
  26. ash914

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    Trolling?
     
  27. Medwell

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    I wouldn't do any of the above, but I voted for #3, because:

    #1: I would never, ever spend anywhere close to $55k for a useless Master's degree. Actually, the only way I could possibly consider this option is if it was fully funded with a stipend.

    #2: At this point in my life, I wouldn't be able to live without having a paid job. How would you support yourself if you're just volunteering all day, anyway?
     
  28. tn4596

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    how is that trolling?
    I was just empahsizing on the lack of options the OP presented on how to spend his year off.
     
  29. ash914

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    You work during your "year off" because med schools will ask what you are doing at some point. Also you will be spending the next 4 years spending a lot more money than you will be taking in, so thinking about finances and your resume eliminate the possibility of sitting around playing video games like you suggested.
     
  30. Smirkus

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    I first want to say that this is a great discussion in this thread, and it is giving me a ton to think about.

    Summary of my Conclusion/Update on my goal for why I am even considering this!: My life goal is to practice in primary care (looking at peds) and play an active professional role in medical ethics by sitting on ethics boards, and having a position where I could advise hospitals or effect legislation regarding the ethical practice and conduct of medicine. The Masters degree may not be worth it due to money as long as I network and do research in the field, which the prof. who gave met this opportunity offered to me.


    Perhaps the best course of action would be to take him up on the medical ethics research, and see if I have time to have a job on the side, at say Starbucks or something like that.
     
  31. CurrySpice

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    Number 4.

    Get a real-life job or an Americorps position. Don't pay $55,000 for a non-medical masters, or pay money to qualify for jobs that may not exist or volunteer to work without pay in a paid position.
     
  32. Tapepsi

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    I think that is definitely the best option especially since you want to get involved in medical ethics. :thumbup: You will most likely have time to have some small job on the side like a bartender.
     
  33. IlDestriero

    IlDestriero Ether Man
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    Your grades are fine, your experience is fine already, what to do, what to do?
    Get a job!
    A real job. You know, with real income and benefits.
    You're crazier than a crap house rat to do anything else. Unless you're riding the trust fund gravy train, and you wouldn't be looking at 2-300k of debt I you were. Get a grip and get a job. Let me guess, your degree is in something useless, right? I'm shocked it's almost august and you're unemployed. Did you not get in this cycle and make no back up plan???
    Never work for free. Those days ended when you got a degree.
     

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