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is taking a year off between undergrad and medical school a bad idea?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by toffinoodle, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. toffinoodle

    toffinoodle 2+ Year Member

    Feb 11, 2007
    I am considering taking a year off between my undergrad and medical school. Do medical schools look down on students who do this, or does it not make a difference?

    During the year off I plan to work at a hospital and gain more experience, so it is not like I would be relaxing and wasting time. I just thought it would be more convenient because it would allow me to take physics during my senior year rather than trying to cram it in next year when there are scheduling conflicts.

    Any suggestions?
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  3. pennybridge

    pennybridge Banned Banned

    Oct 13, 2006
    it's generally looked at as positive if you do something worthwhile in your year off, like work in health care, work in research, whatever.

    the average age of med school freshman is going up and every year there's a larger percentage of incoming students who are not directly from undergraduate school.

    they like it, assuming you do something worthwhile. Honing your xbox skills isn't necessarily worthwhile.
  4. maestro1625

    maestro1625 10+ Year Member

    Jan 22, 2006
    hell, I'm in the process of a year off... it's called senior year.
  5. gotmeds?

    gotmeds? 5+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    :lol: A year off! Oh you kids are adorable! I took about 10.
  6. pennybridge

    pennybridge Banned Banned

    Oct 13, 2006
  7. novawildcat

    novawildcat Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Aug 22, 2005
    why would it be bad? go travel and come back with some good stories to tell.

    Honestly, if you think about it consider the average applicant to medical school who comes straight out of college.

    They have never paid any bills in their entire life.
    They have never held down a real job working 40-50 hours a week.
    They have never even lived out in the real world!

    They won't even have lived out in the real world until they are done medical school! By that time they would be 26 going on 27! WOW who goes until they are 26-27 years old without ever having to pay a bill in their life? That is almost unheard of out in the general population of non premeds/med school students.

    Taking a year off would be good.
  8. BigRedPremed

    BigRedPremed Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 20, 2005
    As long as you make good use of your year off, it will be a positive.

    Since when did they allow typewriters to be hooked up to the internet?
  9. jojocola

    jojocola Senior Member 2+ Year Member

    May 19, 2006
    I recommend doing things that help your app but at the same time are fun. I want to go to other countries and volunteer, shadow whatever. Africa, england, australia, and any other place i'd go on a vacation would be ideal for me to boost my app and take a chill pill, for one year.
  10. FON86

    FON86 7+ Year Member

    Aug 3, 2006
    Miami, Fl
    i dont think anybody will tell you its a bad idea, as long as you do something y ou can talk about.
  11. AINeuro

    AINeuro Half luck, Half fate

    Apr 16, 2007
    It's usually looked upon as a good thing if you take a year off and do something productive with it, especially if you're going to be gaining some hands-on experience.

    Don't worry, just focus on what you're doing and your efforts will be recognized.
  12. FenderHM

    FenderHM Where there's a will... 7+ Year Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    honestly i was kinda bored in my year off. i worked at a med school doing research, but my boss was a jerk and i didnt want to quit because i was applying to that school and i thought i'd look bad. then i got rejected from said school anyway. i guess moral is, if you're gonna take a year off, definitely enjoy it and dont get stuck with some jerk-ass bitter barely post-postdoc with a stick up his ass
  13. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel 5+ Year Member

    Sep 4, 2006
    Orange, CA
    I'm in my year off now and its great - so much more time for med school apps and interviews.

    And lots to talk about aside from - school school and oh yeah school.

    Best choice I ever made and I've had nothing but positive response. And I'm not doing anything terrible health related. I still work in the free clinic I always did but my main job is entirely unrelated. As long as you have something to say about why you did it and what you're getting out of it you'll be fine.
  14. drhannibal

    drhannibal Sup 5+ Year Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Taking a year off is pretty sweet. That is what I am doing now. I work at Penn doing research for a group of neurologists. I got a lot of clinical experience and it is definitely something good to talk about at interviews. Plus I go home everyday at 5 and sit around and watch everything that TIVO taped for me :D . It doesn't get much better than that.
  15. 63768

    63768 Guest 2+ Year Member

    Mar 5, 2005
    there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a year off. what's one year in comparison to decades of your life after?
  16. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator 10+ Year Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    If you spend a year working, I almost guarantee you will interview better than current college students.
  17. eternalrage

    eternalrage Even Kal has bad days... 10+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    I took two years off, worked one year, and did a masters the other. There will be little boxes on your secondaries asking "did you take time off after college and what did you do" - as long as you have meaningful things to write in this box, you are ok.
  18. rich4k

    rich4k Member 2+ Year Member

    Jan 4, 2007
    San Diego
    do some volunteering, get a job, and save some money. It's much easier to take time off work than school while writing essays, interviewing, etc.
  19. DrBubbles

    DrBubbles 7+ Year Member

    Nov 21, 2006
    A year off, in my opinion, is the best thing you can do for yourself. You are going to be so engaged for the four years of med school, and 3-7 or so years of residency and possibly fellowship. And people tend to gain a much more wholesome and realistic perspective on life after taking some time off, supporting themselves, and working with people from different backgrounds and in different situations full-time. And the best benefit? You'll be revved up for school again a year later. :)
  20. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Agree. Or at least you will have more to talk about in terms of nonacademic stuff.

    If you look at the nontrad board, you will find many people who did a whole career before applying to med school, and did fine in the process. So a year is nothing. If you have any hesitancy at all, it's better to spend a year and apply to med school reinvigorated and better thought out, than to rush on to school and suffer angst and burnout.
  21. GreenShirt

    GreenShirt 10+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2007
    I took 2 yrs off, it's been great for all the reasons stated above. The average age range for people entering med school is 23-26, which means a bunch of people are taking a year or 2 off before they go. I did research in my time off. Another person I know did research too, and one deferred to work as a paramedic. Very common, and very good.
  22. Think Big

    Think Big That's What She Said 2+ Year Member

    Dec 3, 2006
    Southeast of Disorder
    As a doctor you're going to deal with plenty of jerk-ass, bitter patients, colleagues and mentors with sticks up their asses. That year was probably far more valuable than it seems right now;)

    Personally, I think taking a year off to work in the real world is one of the best things you can do before going to med school.
  23. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    In terms of mentors, you can always choose one that you get along with. Only on TV do people stick with bastards as their mentors. As far as patients though, your comment is potentially an understatement.
  24. Think Big

    Think Big That's What She Said 2+ Year Member

    Dec 3, 2006
    Southeast of Disorder
    Sorry, I was thinking of "mentors" in the broadest possible sense of the word, including professors, residents, attendings etc. And until I start med school in August and have to face the harsh reality that it is nothing like TV, I'd appreciate it if you would leave me to my delusions of medicine being exactly like Scrubs episodes :D

    *Inner monologue: After responding to Law2Doc, I couldn't help but think that Elliot was right all along. Maybe I did need Dr. Cox's approval to feel good about myself. Maybe that was the only reason that I put up with that jerk-ass, bitter attending with a stick up his ass...*
  25. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    That may be, Barbie.
  26. Proctor MD

    Proctor MD UASOM Class of 2011 2+ Year Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    There's nothing at all wrong with taking a year off, if you do something productive. I took a year after undergrad to do AmeriCorps, and that only gave me more perspective, more to talk about, and an interesting experience to present to interviewers. All in all, I'm a big fan of the year off. It was a nice break from school, but not too long.
  27. DianaUT06

    DianaUT06 MS4 5+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    I'm just starting my year off ;) since it doesn't look like I'll be accepted this cycle. Honestly, now I'm getting excited about it...I'm going to work in a med school doing research, live near my boyfriend (since we've never been in the same city together!), and best of all I get to make a bunch of fun goals for this year! I'm going to run my very first half-marathon in December :D Just take some time to think about the things/goals that you would love to do, but wouldn't find the time for them in med school...i've got plenty. :D
  28. vaorpa


    Jan 17, 2007
    you can't lose by taking a year off if you're doing something worthwhile, as everyone has mentioned above. either your year will be stellar and you'll learn a lot OR it'll be boring (like my current year-off) and you'll return super ready to be in med school.
  29. ericana_83

    ericana_83 5+ Year Member

    Nov 7, 2006
    I'm currently in the middle of a "year off" in which I've been participating in a full-time Americorps program by working in a clinic for low-income, uninsured people. I don't regret taking the time off, but I have to make the confession that I'm getting a little ancy (sp?). I'm already raring to go with the med school stuff, and at the same time scared for my future lack of free time.

    My advice is to take the time--it's definitely helped my motivation for school, since a year ago I couldn't even THINK about studying. Do something enlightening (like research) or humanitarian (like volunteering) that you'll be able to talk about in your interviews and TRULY be passionate about. BUT---make your job kind of cush. At this point I'd really like to take off and travel and do cool things before entering school, but I'm commited to being here 40 hours a week, and it's a little rough to just take off.

    So, do something cool, but don't get to serious about it. Enough said.
  30. HallieFae


    Feb 4, 2012
    What did you do during your 10 year break? i am approaching my senior year of undergraduate and am seriously considering taking a couple years off before medical school. the dilemma i am facing though is that i want to travel and see the world before i get bogged down again with years of schooling. but i figure medical schools do not highly view students who do nothing but travel during their years off. i am looking into jobs in the science field that would allow me to travel and have something on my resume during those years off but i am having trouble finding any.
  31. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Thank You for Smoking Physician Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 7+ Year Member

    May 22, 2008
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    I wouldn't be so sure. Traveling can be a valuable experience as you're broadening your worldview and can likely bring a different perspective to the class than those that may have done the more "typical" things.
  32. scrubbymcduff


    Feb 3, 2012
    By the time I start med school, it will be 5.5 years! Not a big deal by any standards, unless its a big deal to you. If thats the case, than go when you want to.
  33. 1stmeds

    1stmeds started from the bottom 5+ Year Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    now I'm here
    Definitely take a year off. In the long run you'll be happy you did. Think about what is only 1 year in the grand scheme of what your medical career path is going to be. A drop in the bucket. Plus once you start down that road you'll be locked in with school and establishing a career. so NOW is really the best time.

    Plus you can have fun while enriching yourself at the same time. Travel, but don't hopscotch around the globe. Volunteer at places, stay there for an extending amount of time and make a positive local impact. Or work in the healthcare field and get good exposure while saving up money. But don't rush to get into school. At the least you'll be considered a more competitive applicant because you're gaining real-world experience and thought outside the box. Of course, this means you have to actually DO something, not just waste the year. But get creative, and you'll be happy you did later on.

    (Full disclosure: I joined the Peace Corps after undergrad, so maybe I'm a little biased. But try to tell that the points I make aren't valid :D)

    However, I will say that, inevitably, when you do get an interview and are asked why you took the year off, don't say because it you didn't want to cram physics into your schedule and it would be more convenient to take it senior year with a year off. This just sounds like you can't handle a rigorous schedule (whether or not that's actually true, that's how it sounds).
  34. ACE Rx

    ACE Rx Super Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Nov 19, 2011
    Nothing wrong with taking a year off but it can be a double-edged sword as well.

    If you do take a year off, do something productive. Go traveling around the world to see different perspectives of life, do research and establish connections, volunteer work, work in the real world to see what's it like, anything that makes you a better person won't be a negative for any adcoms.

    However, I do know some friends that did take a year off but all they was stay home, have fun, and study for MCATs. Even today, I still worry for them when it comes time to apply.
  35. jtdMU2010

    jtdMU2010 M2 2+ Year Member

    Feb 2, 2011
    OP was from 2007, you guys still giving him advice? Probably in med school now.
  36. ACE Rx

    ACE Rx Super Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Nov 19, 2011
    Wow, didn't even notice someone bringing this back from the dead. OP is probably been back from his year(s) off.
  37. wlee43

    wlee43 Banned

    Jul 4, 2010
    why should I do something worthwhile while taking the year off? I should do whatever the **** I want. am I wrong?
  38. sector9

    sector9 Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Apr 27, 2011
    hSDN Alumni

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