Gap Year / Postgraduate Study Plans

mtnsandmedicine

New Member
Dec 12, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
    I am having a hard time deciding what to do with my time before applying to medical schools, and would like advice on a few questions.

    First, some background on myself:

    I will be graduating in December 2021 with a bachelor's degree in biomedical sciences from a 4 year US institution. I have not applied to any medical schools yet, and plan on only applying to US MD programs when the time comes. My stats (except for the MCAT which I have not taken yet), research, EC's and clinical experiences are all solid, but clinical experience is probably my weakest area.

    I have the opportunity to attend a 1.5 year Master's of Public Health and Tropical Medicine program in a different country on a well-known scholarship, however it wouldn't start until January 2023 (a full year after I graduate). Also, because it is not in the US, I would have to wait until the end of the 1.5 year program to begin the application process as I would be unable to attend in-person interview days while in the program. As I said, I feel that my stats are pretty good so I would mainly be pursuing this program because I am interested in the content and hope to apply it to my practicing medicine one day. I am interested in a few different medical specialties, but all of them through the lens of humanitarian medical work. The MPH/Trop. Med program features courses in remote medical management, refugee medicine, tropical toxicology, aeromedical rescue, etc.

    My other option is to stay in the States and gain more clinical experience while applying, and potentially apply for a MD/MPH dual degree to gain some of the same experiences/knowledge in place of the MPH/Trop. Med program.

    I will also add that my goal is to get into my desired field of medical practice in the least amount of time possible, while still allowing for important opportunities to further my education and life experience. In other words, I want to be efficient with my time, but not to a fault.

    So, my questions are:

    1) Will the recognizable scholarship and MPH/Trop. Med program and give me a leg-up when applying to MD programs, and if so how much?

    2) Is it worth taking the time (2.5 years additional time when compared to applying the spring after I graduate) to attend this program to gain the experience in my field of interest, or will I be able to learn those things in residency/fellowship?

    3) Would an MD/MPH dual degree be able to cover most of the same content I would learn at the master's program abroad, while doing so in a more time-effective manner?

    Thanks! Please ask questions if I need to clarify anything.
     

    mtnsandmedicine

    New Member
    Dec 12, 2020
    3
    0
    1. Pre-Medical
      How "weak" are your clinical experiences?
      My main clinical experiences have been:

      - Volunteering at a local hospital (6 months in the ED pre-covid, then a gap when they paused volunteer services, then 6 months at the covid vaccine clinic and as a wayfinder for patients once they brought us back)

      - Working at a summer camp for children with serious illnesses. This involved planning care/needs throughout the daily activities of the camp, coordinating with nurses and other care providers for each child's needs, supervising/running the activities, etc.

      I also have consistent shadowing from the past four years and a doc who will write me a letter. Not clinical experience I know, but might be worth something.
       
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      husky_doc16

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      Nov 2, 2016
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        My main clinical experiences have been:

        - Volunteering at a local hospital (6 months in the ED pre-covid, then a gap when they paused volunteer services, then 6 months at the covid vaccine clinic and as a wayfinder for patients once they brought us back)

        - Working at a summer camp for children with serious illnesses. This involved planning care/needs throughout the daily activities of the camp, coordinating with nurses and other care providers for each child's needs, supervising/running the activities, etc.

        I also have consistent shadowing from the past four years and a doc who will write me a letter. Not clinical experience I know, but might be worth something.
        I see. To answer your questions:

        1) I don’t know if the grad program will give you a leg up over other candidates, but it will help you during the app process because it shows your passion and commitment to public health. This aspect will probably be a great strength in your app.

        2) Yes. You seem to love this program. I would recommend pursuing and achieving your interests/goals before attending med school because it can only help you obtain an acceptance. Plus, once you enter med school, your career path for the next 7+ years is kind of set for you, so you don’t have time to take 2 years off to do other things.

        3) MD/MPH will not be similar to the program you described (speaking from the perspective of my former school’s program). MD students get quite a bit of their electives for the MPH “completed” because MD electives double dip for some of the requirements. Therefore, it’s a quicker way for students to complete the MPH during med school. However, the experience is different because MD’s don’t take all the classes or do all the experiential learning — especially not 2.5 years worth.
         
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        mtnsandmedicine

        New Member
        Dec 12, 2020
        3
        0
        1. Pre-Medical
          I see. To answer your questions:

          1) I don’t know if the grad program will give you a leg up over other candidates, but it will help you during the app process because it shows your passion and commitment to public health. This aspect will probably be a great strength in your app.

          2) Yes. You seem to love this program. I would recommend pursuing and achieving your interests/goals before attending med school because it can only help you obtain an acceptance. Plus, once you enter med school, your career path for the next 7+ years is kind of set for you, so you don’t have time to take 2 years off to do other things.

          3) MD/MPH will not be similar to the program you described (speaking from the perspective of my former school’s program). MD students get quite a bit of their electives for the MPH “completed” because MD electives double dip for some of the requirements. Therefore, it’s a quicker way for students to complete the MPH during med school. However, the experience is different because MD’s don’t take all the classes or do all the experiential learning — especially not 2.5 years worth.
          Thanks for your input. I hear what you are saying about the experiential learning portion, from what I have seen at most MPH dual degree programs it looks like the med students really get the basics distilled down into a year of MPH specific courses with a little bit of experiential stuff thrown in depending on which school you are at.

          Since you asked about my clinical experiences, do you have any thoughts on them? I am a little concerned that I might not have as much or the right type of direct clinical exposure as some schools are looking for, but I don't have much context to base that on. I should add that the summer camp experience has been a continued activity of mine for the past few years.
           

          husky_doc16

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          Nov 2, 2016
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            You're exactly right about the MD/MPH programs. There's only so much time to fit a 2 year program on top of an MD program, something has to give, unfortunately.

            As for your clinical experiences, I only asked because you mentioned it, but I think they are pretty good. You can continue to volunteer during your MPH (if you choose this route), or leave it as be and maybe shadow some more, if you want to improve a little more.
             
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