Jul 23, 2019
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Hey all,

I'm a senior graduating in December from a T20 school, and I'm deciding what to do for my gap year starting in February. To paint the picture: ORM, California, MCAT/GPA: 522/4.0

The rest of my app has research exp (~4 years in a lab). My clinical exp is mostly a little less beefy (~2 years patient interviewing program, lots of hospital volunteering). Everything else is pretty standard.

My choice is either
1) an RA position at Harvard through BWH (which pipelined from a harvard SURF).

2) a high-end private practice clinical internship in San Francisco with a doctor who is highly open to pitches in clinical research/affiliated with the SF schools.

Position 1 would be clinical/basic research mixed in. It would get me a relationship with a Harvard MD-PhD doctor/professor. Lab environments can be kind of anti-social or boring. Probably (although who knows) won't publish with a year or two of work.

Position 2 would be more clinical. Patient contact, administrative work, shadowing, with self-driven clinical research on the side. The administrative work of filing and taking patient vitals may be monotonous, but the doctor relationship and collaboration would be super strong. Also, because this doctor caters so highly to the wealthy, I'm fearful that medical schools will view this experience with hesitance. Although he does use opportunities to help the homeless and underserved for free.

I'm kind of torn between the two. I guess it boils down to research vs clinical. If anyone has insights as to how these two activities may be viewed by adcoms, that'd be amazing. Beyond that, how might working under a Harvard doctor-researcher affect career prospects? (I understand the air of vanity associated with this last question, but I'm curious if it really does boost an app or not)

Thoughts?
 
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jhmmd

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Apr 28, 2020
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Hey all,

I'm a senior graduating in December from a T20 school, and I'm deciding what to do for my gap year starting in February. To paint the picture: ORM, California, MCAT/GPA: 522/4.0

The rest of my app has research exp (~4 years in a lab). My clinical exp is mostly a little less beefy (~2 years patient interviewing program, lots of hospital volunteering). Everything else is pretty standard.

My choice is either
1) an RA position at Harvard through BWH (which pipelined from a harvard SURF).

2) a high-end private practice clinical internship in San Francisco with a doctor who is highly open to pitches in clinical research/affiliated with the SF schools.

Position 1 would be clinical/basic research mixed in. It would get me a relationship with a Harvard MD-PhD doctor/professor. Lab environments can be kind of anti-social or boring. Probably (although who knows) won't publish with a year or two of work.

Position 2 would be more clinical. Patient contact, administrative work, shadowing, with self-driven clinical research on the side. The administrative work of filing and taking patient vitals may be monotonous, but the doctor relationship and collaboration would be super strong. Also, because this doctor caters so highly to the hyper-wealthy, (he charges like $400-500 for a single 20 min session...) I'm fearful that medical schools will view this experience with hesitance. Although he does constantly help the homeless and underserved for free.

I'm kind of torn between the two. I guess it boils down to research vs clinical. If anyone has insights as to how these two activities may be viewed by adcoms, that'd be amazing. Beyond that, how might working under a Harvard doctor-researcher affect career prospects? (I understand the air of clout-chasing and vanity associated with this last question, but I'm curious how about the practicality of it/if a connection like that would matter)

Thoughts?
Work where you are more comfortable. Are you an east coast person or a west coast person?
 
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Jul 23, 2019
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What's your goal for a gap year? Why are you taking one?

I guess the goal is to have a meaningful experience I can talk about that allows me to stand out during the application cycle. I have a pretty strong app, but I know that the top schools look for that 'special' factor.

Of course, personal growth is important too, can't deny that
 
Aug 12, 2019
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Do you already have publications? I'd personally lead towards the patient exposure in option 2 since that seems to be the weaker portion of your app.
 
Jul 23, 2019
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4
Do you have any experience serving underserved population?

That's actually a really great point. I do, but I literally just learned that this field of medicine the clinic practices is essentially called 'concierge medicine,' this exclusive branch of medicine that exists only in super wealth neighborhoods. The optics of that is really not the best... Especially in medical school where selflessness is emphasized so heavily.

and I have one publication on the way. Clinical is weaker, so that's another important thing to consider. I am hoping that the MD-PhD lab route may provide some clinical opportunities as well.
 
Mar 14, 2019
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That's actually a really great point. I do, but I literally just learned that this field of medicine the clinic practices is essentially called 'concierge medicine,' this exclusive branch of medicine that exists only in super wealth neighborhoods. The optics of that is really not the best... Especially in medical school where selflessness is emphasized so heavily.

and I have one publication on the way. Clinical is weaker, so that's another important thing to consider. I am hoping that the MD-PhD lab route may provide some clinical opportunities as well.
In that case, this has just become a no-brainer. Spending your gap year working in a concierge practice will be a terrible look, everywhere, and will do NOTHING to enhance what is otherwise a superlative application. It should not keep you from being accepted (I can't know this for sure, since I'm a premed, not an adcom), but the answer to the question of which will do more for your application is obvious.
 
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candbgirl

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What was involved in your two years of patient interviewing thing? You might have enough clinical experience. You really mention no nonclinical volunteering to those less fortunate than yourself. With all of the glorious things you have on your application maybe a way to stand out would be doing a City Year or something similar. Some activity that doesn’t screech privilege. You obviously have great contacts and resources but to shift gears and do something totally unsuspected might really make you stand out. Good luck and congrats on your stats.
 
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If OP is targeting T10s no one including adcoms can predict anything.
Very, very true, but as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, academics who give up money to educate the next generation will be less receptive to the miracle of concierge medicine, which allows the 1% to receive exceptional, personalized service while allowing the provider to maintain an income and a lifestyle and denying millions of people across the country access to care than anyone who would ask this question might believe. :cool:
 

EdgeTrimmer

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May 26, 2018
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Very, very true, but as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, academics who give up money to educate the next generation will be less receptive to the miracle of concierge medicine, which allows the 1% to receive exceptional, personalized service while allowing the provider to maintain an income and a lifestyle and denying millions of people across the country access to care than anyone who would ask this question might believe. :cool:
May be OP can say did concierge medicine to see how it is, was repulsed by it and ready to participate in socialized medicine by going to a T10 private school :cool:
 
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Jul 23, 2019
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What was involved in your two years of patient interviewing thing? You might have enough clinical experience. You really mention no nonclinical volunteering to those less fortunate than yourself. With all of the glorious things you have on your application maybe a way to stand out would be doing a City Year or something similar. Some activity that doesn’t screech privilege. You obviously have great contacts and resources but to shift gears and do something totally unsuspected might really make you stand out. Good luck and congrats on your stats.

That makes sense. The two year thing was a program interviewing veterans in hospice care in my city's VA. It was pretty much a 2-3 hour interview each session.

Nonclinical is kind of a big hole. I have club volunteering here and there but nothing really standout. Do you have experience with City Year?

May be OP can say did concierge medicine to see how it is, was repulsed by it and ready to participate in socialized medicine by going to a T10 private school :cool:

Also this is a next-level strat, med schools will never expect it. There's so much irony in that though. Fittingly, this doc was a prof at stanford for a like 15+ years so....
 
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candbgirl

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The thing with club activities is it’s tied to campus and very much in your comfort zone. You need to try to get off campus and out of your comfort zone. As a doc you will work with lots of different people, many very unlike yourself. And you have to be comfortable dealing with all of these people and some people are just really hard to deal with. As to City Year I didn’t do it but my nephew did it and it was life changing. He was assigned to work in an AIDS clinic and he loved it. And so did the ADCOMS the next cycle. You actually sound a lot like him. He had amazing stats, lots of opportunities etc. He did have some nonclinical volunteering but there was an intangible lacking. A friend was doing City Year so he did it too. There are other programs similar that might fit you better. Good luck.
 

Deltasidearm

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Aug 15, 2018
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I guess the goal is to have a meaningful experience I can talk about that allows me to stand out during the application cycle. I have a pretty strong app, but I know that the top schools look for that 'special' factor.

Of course, personal growth is important too, can't deny that
Literally the only way to have an actual meaningful experience is by doing what you enjoy doing the most. Anything that is "impressive" but done for the wrong reasons is extremely superficial and it shows when talking about the experience. Do what you enjoy the most, grow from it, and let your genuine enthusiasm for what you did shine through. That interest and enthusiasm is what draws a close eye to you and makes you memorable, not the experience itself.

Think about a conversation you've had with someone about a topic you've had no interest in at all but were nonetheless really engaged and drawn in by. Passion is infectious and should be the message of your application. It makes you human. It makes you memorable. Do what makes you happy and not for an application.
 
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