Should I take a second gap year? 4.0/525 with strong clinical, but no research/leadership.

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Feb 17, 2024
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Context: I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life during college, and I basically wasted those 4 years. I never had to take anatomy, but I took it for fun my senior year, and halfway through my last semester of college something clicked and I realized that I want to be a doctor. I've spent the last year working as a medical assistant and getting volunteering hours. My stats will get me yield protected at a lot of schools, but my lack of leadership and research will keep me from getting even a second glance from T20s. I think if I took another year and got a lab tech job at my alma mater, and also bothered the PI a bunch to let me contribute or do my own research, I could probably get some meaningful research experience and maybe a poster or publication. This would also give me time to find some less perfunctory volunteer experience than what I've currently got (although when drafting my PS I was able to come up with a really meaningful connection between my clinical experience, health disparities/underserved populations, and my reasons for starting volunteering at the food closet). I also don't know how strong my secondaries will be, since my weak ECs mean I don't have a lot of talking points. I have FAP for this application cycle, which is part of the reason I don't know if I should just shoot my shot this cycle or not. I feel like I don't have a lot to lose in either situation, since I either get in somewhere, or I save the time and effort and come back next year with a strong application (but I would be starting med school at almost 25), so I was wondering what you all might suggest.
I guess the main question I would most like answered is: Is my application even strong enough to apply to mid-tiers this cycle, and do I (1) ignore T20s this cycle and apply to 30-40 mid-tiers, (2) apply this cycle to 10-15 T20s and 25-30 mid-tiers, or (3) wait yet another year to apply when my application is stronger? If the second gap year option is best, what should I do during that time to make my application T20-worthy, and are the T20s worth it? The ultimate goal is just to get into med school, and I know an extra gap year would help with that goal, but I want to know if it's necessary.

Faha suggested the following schools in another post I made, which I thought was strange given my lack of research/leadership:
Kaiser, Washington University, Vanderbilt, USF Morsani, Duke, U Virginia, Jefferson, Pittsburgh, Hofstra, Einstein, Mount Sinai, NYU, Columbia, Cornell, Rochester, UPenn, Johns Hopkins, Cincinnati, Ohio State, Case Western, U Michigan, Northwestern, Boston University, Tufts, Dartmouth, Brown
These seem like the sort of schools my lack of research/leadership would get me screened out of in a second.

All hours are projected to time of application if I apply this cycle in May/June.

GPA: 4.0 Biology BS

MCAT: 525 (132/129/132/132) on 1/13/24

Demographics: white male, Nevada resident

Clinical: 2000 hours as a medical assistant in a urology clinic -- direct patient contact (cath changes, BCG, Lupron injections; I also assist the doctors with cystos and prostate biopsies)

Research: zero

Shadowing: ~20 hours shadowing in urology (I plan on getting some more in primary care)

Volunteering: ~210 hours spread between food closet, library, and dog shelter

Leadership: none during college. I help train new MAs, and I'm the main authority in our clinic on assisting the doctors with bladder Botox.

Other: ~1500 hours part-time work at university library during school, 400-500 hours as a housekeeper each summer. ~500 hours as a field tech with the Forest Service doing field surveys to collect data on owl populations one summer.

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Given your very unusual circumstances, I wonder if you could cobble together something with the doctors you are working with to do a chart review study also known as a retrospective cohort study to answer some pertinent clinical question. I saw this work for a non-trad with exceptional application except for lack of research.
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is this post joking?? I can’t tell.

No joke dude your application is stack. Those score and clinical hours you could get into top 20 for sure maybe even top 10 medical school.

research and leadership are unnecessary imo. It nice to have but it not going to get you screen out
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Never too early to start your secondary essay drafts.
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