Gap Year--> Does taking a break look bad?

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

jeb26

Full Member
5+ Year Member
2+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2016
Messages
19
Reaction score
3
So I graduate soon, and I am applying to medical school next summer which means I will have one and a half years off. I had originally planned on being involved in some clinical research as a research coordinator, but that ended up falling through due to some issues in the lab. I have considered looking around for a similar position, but seeing as I only have a year and a half, most people don't want to train me for this short period of time, and the more I think about it the more I kind of just want to pursue some personal interests (photography, travel, backpacking, reading for fun and not school) and take some time off. That being said, I need to pay bills so I would continue working ~20 hours a week as a CNA and/or tutor. I would also continue volunteering at the local free clinic and food pantry because I really enjoy volunteering there. Is it looked upon badly upon by medical schools to take a gap year and not really be adding anything to your application?

Note: I do have a decent application (3.94 GPA, 96% MCAT score, 3 years basic research, ~ 2000 clinical hours as a CNA, a lot of volunteer experience, many leadership positions with student orgs, shadowing experience) so I don't feel like there are any really big weak spots in my application that I should be improving during the gap year. Although feel free to correct me if you feel there is something I am missing!

Members don't see this ad.
 
You'll be fine
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users
I am in the same boat. I can't get a job as a medical scribe because they don't want to waste time training me. I have 7 II's right now and am just sort of hoping I'll get in somewhere soon, so I don't have to keep worrying about this.
 
Members don't see this ad :)
I say go for it. One kid I met at an interview was doing nothing, just traveling around for his gap year. If you already have your bases covered, there's no need for an intense full time job if you can afford living without it, IMO
 
I lived, taught, and traveled abroad for my gap year. Not medically related at all. It was an incredible experience and I've talked about this experience more on the interview trail than anything else. I think as long as you're doing something that's meaningful to you and that you can talk about/ learn and grow from, a year off is a great way to do something you are passionate about before school starts up again.
 
For those who took a gap year, did you travel alone? Also, where did you go? Did you plan the trip or just sort of go? I'm graduating a semester early and I'm not sure what I want to do with myself during that time.
 
For those who took a gap year, did you travel alone? Also, where did you go? Did you plan the trip or just sort of go? I'm graduating a semester early and I'm not sure what I want to do with myself during that time.


I did a mix of traveling alone and with friends. Honestly, traveling alone is my preferred method. Stay in hostels, meet locals and fellow travelers. You'll make friends from around the world and with the most interesting life experiences and stories! You can also do whatever you like to. Like art museums? Go to them. Hate them? Don't go. It's nice because you are in these amazing places and can do whatever you want to on your own schedule.

Where to go? wherever you want. Don't rely on other people to answer this question. Fellow travelers can give you so many suggestions about how to find hotels or ways to travel, but where should be entirely up to you! I traveled throughout western europe because that was highest on my list. You should go wherever that is for you.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 4 users
So somewhat like OP, I am having ideas of taking a gap year. However, I am thinking of doing it before I graduate (e.g. between Junior and Senior years) and then applying over that senior year. Does taking a break like that in the middle vs at the end of college look bad in the same way? I hope to study abroad and do some things similar to what OP mentioned, and wouldn't mind not having to worry about the application cycle during that time off and just focusing on some things I haven't been able to do much since I got to college (travel, coach my younger brother's baseball team, etc.). The timeline ends up being the same if I take it before or after I graduate, so would med school look down on something like this?
 
I lived, taught, and traveled abroad for my gap year. Not medically related at all. It was an incredible experience and I've talked about this experience more on the interview trail than anything else. I think as long as you're doing something that's meaningful to you and that you can talk about/ learn and grow from, a year off is a great way to do something you are passionate about before school starts up again.

How did you teach while abroad? Through a program or just kind of picked it up while you were there?
 
I am in the same boat. I can't get a job as a medical scribe because they don't want to waste time training me. I have 7 II's right now and am just sort of hoping I'll get in somewhere soon, so I don't have to keep worrying about this.
Good luck!
 
You sure you can't add a really good experience in there? Like doing CNA work in another field?
You could also pick up a hobby that's fun and interesting. Or learn Spanish!
 
... I kind of just want to pursue some personal interests (photography, travel, backpacking, reading for fun and not school) and take some time off. That being said, I need to pay bills so I would continue working ~20 hours a week as a CNA and/or tutor. I would also continue volunteering at the local free clinic and food pantry because I really enjoy volunteering there. Is it looked upon badly upon by medical schools to take a gap year and not really be adding anything to your application?

Note: I do have a decent application (3.94 GPA, 96% MCAT score, 3 years basic research, ~ 2000 clinical hours as a CNA, a lot of volunteer experience, many leadership positions with student orgs, shadowing experience) so I don't feel like there are any really big weak spots in my application that I should be improving during the gap year. Although feel free to correct me if you feel there is something I am missing!
It's okay; and your stats look good.

Some individuals choose to take a gap year following graduation from college for a variety of reasons (e.g., explore different interests, travel, job, money, family, freedom, take a break from school/academic burnout).

In so doing, these individuals often report a greater sense of self-awareness about themselves, their surroundings, their goals, their passions, their interests, other people, other activities, and life. They also report increased self-confidence, maturity and personal insight.

As mentioned by @PatchA, you will have more personal anecdotes to share with others (including interviewers) concerning your gap year experience. Personally, I enjoy hearing about new things, and not the same old stuff. So, if an applicant has chosen to take a gap year before applying to medical school, I often want to hear about the applicant's gap year: what they did, learned, accomplished, expected, etc. It gives me another good opportunity to learn about you.
 
You sure you can't add a really good experience in there? Like doing CNA work in another field?
You could also pick up a hobby that's fun and interesting. Or learn Spanish!

Yes... theoretically I could pick up a CNA job in a different field pretty easily (and would probably enjoy that, long term care wears on you after a while), but practically speaking my CNA job pays incredibly well now, and is flexible enough where I could take time off to travel for a few months and then have a job to come back to.

However, learn Spanish is on the to do list!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Given your situation I would look into travelling in Central/Latin American (Spanish speaking) countries while working as needed for money to fund such a trip (maybe how Patch did it, depending on their response), if saving or loans are not funding the time off, simply because it could fulfill some of your listed desires; "...photography, travel, backpacking, reading for fun and not school..." and fulfill them damn well it would. Not too mention that submersing yourself in the language will help you pick it up quite easily, or so I have read, and if the travelling is a big part of the time off it could really advance the learning.

Along with this, your time off itself shouldn't raise too many questions during an interview about why you didn't do research, no instead I would more expect to get questions about how the experience was and what it meant to you and other generic questions along those lines. Your application looks to be quite nice, so I would consider this just another thing to add to your extensive resume.

Best,
-J
 
i took a year off after undergrad, worked for 1.5 years, took another 10 months off, went and did post bacc, then have like another year with little more than volunteering and shadowing. I'm going to medical school

you'll be fine lol. Especially with those stats? you kiddin?
 
How did you teach while abroad? Through a program or just kind of picked it up while you were there?


I found a program in one country where I was based and taught. On school holidays, I traveled
 
Given your situation I would look into travelling in Central/Latin American (Spanish speaking) countries while working as needed for money to fund such a trip (maybe how Patch did it, depending on their response), if saving or loans are not funding the time off, simply because it could fulfill some of your listed desires; "...photography, travel, backpacking, reading for fun and not school..." and fulfill them damn well it would. Not too mention that submersing yourself in the language will help you pick it up quite easily, or so I have read, and if the travelling is a big part of the time off it could really advance the learning.

Along with this, your time off itself shouldn't raise too many questions during an interview about why you didn't do research, no instead I would more expect to get questions about how the experience was and what it meant to you and other generic questions along those lines. Your application looks to be quite nice, so I would consider this just another thing to add to your extensive resume.

Best,
-J
Yep! I spent the money I made teaching on travel
 
Gap years are incredibly common. They can be very beneficial. However, I might say that working full time might be more favorably viewed than part time only.
 
Top