Switching to premed junior year - one or two gap years to build ECs?

Moko

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Sep 7, 2015
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1) Anyway this past semester I really did some soul-searching and decided I'd be happier in medicine. I went back and forth and spent a lot of time listening to other people's ideas but I know this is what I want... I have no shadowing and no clinical/non-clinical volunteering.
2) But I was also struggling a lot with depression... Due to my mental health/depression I virtually took this semester off and was only enrolled in 2 credits for independent research and also got 1 W for a class I dropped out of. I also only took 10 credits last fall for similar reasons and got another W.
3) My premed advisor told me I'd be ready with one gap year but I really am doubting that.
4) The only clinical opp right now is hospice but Idk if I'd be able to fit it in + working with late stage dementia patients seems tough emotionally but I guess that's medicine, right? Should I just wait until this summer/fall to get clinical or should I go for the hospice? Also, I might be able to do some shadowing at a local hospital this semester.
I'll be honest, I'm seeing a lot of red flags here.

1) How do you know that this is what you want to do with no shadowing, clinical experience, or volunteering? The idea of being a physician and helping others sounds nice, but the reality of it is that it is a grueling process requiring many sacrifices with often thankless work. There's a reason why there is such a high rate of physician burnout and suicide.
2) Trying to pursue medical training while you are suffering from severe depression is an absolutely terrible idea. You need to make sure that your depression is completely under control before pursuing this career. As is oft said on here, medical school is a furnace that can break even previously-healthy students. I also wonder whether your sudden shift to pursue medicine now is a 'quarter-life crisis' or a consequence of your unmanaged depression. The decision to pursue medicine should not be made lightly, and demands a thoughtful and honest discussion with yourself. Again, it's not all rainbows and sunshine.
3) Can someone get in with just one year of activities? Sure, maybe (but not at my school). When someone suddenly starts volunteering a year before their application, that's a pretty sure sign that someone is just checking off boxes rather than being genuine in their pursuits. The more longitudinal your experiences, the better. The more hours you accrue, the better. There is no magical cutoff, but 200 clinical hours, 200 non-clinical volunteering hours, and 50 shadowing hours is a reasonable start.
4) The sooner you start the better (see point #3). Hospice volunteering and working with patients with late-stage dementia are both excellent clinical experiences to 'test the waters'. If you are truly passionate about these activities, you will make time for it. And if these experiences are too tough for you to handle, then consider it a strong sign that medicine may not be for you.

Just my honest thoughts.
 
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Jan 14, 2021
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I'll be honest, I'm seeing a lot of red flags here.

1) How do you know that this is what you want to do with no shadowing, clinical experience, or volunteering? The idea of being a physician and helping others sounds nice, but the reality of it is that it is a grueling process requiring many sacrifices with often thankless work. There's a reason why there is such a high rate of physician burnout and suicide.
2) Trying to pursue medical training while you are suffering from severe depression is an absolutely terrible idea. You need to make sure that your depression is completely under control before pursuing this career. As is oft said on here, medical school is a furnace that can break even previously-healthy students. I also wonder whether your sudden shift to pursue medicine now is a 'quarter-life crisis' or a consequence of your unmanaged depression. The decision to pursue medicine should not be made lightly, and demands a thoughtful and honest discussion with yourself. Again, it's not all rainbows and sunshine.
3) Can someone get in with just one year of activities? Sure, maybe (but not at my school). When someone suddenly starts volunteering a year before their application, that's a pretty sure sign that someone is just checking off boxes rather than being genuine in their pursuits. The more longitudinal your experiences, the better. The more hours you accrue, the better. There is no magical cutoff, but 200 clinical hours, 200 non-clinical volunteering hours, and 50 shadowing hours is a reasonable start.
4) The sooner you start the better (see point #3). Hospice volunteering and working with patients with late-stage dementia are both excellent clinical experiences to 'test the waters'. If you are truly passionate about these activities, you will make time for it. And if these experiences are too tough for you to handle, then consider it a strong sign that medicine may not be for you.

Just my honest thoughts.
_
 
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Feb 5, 2020
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  1. Medical Student (Accepted)
  1. Should I take one or two gap years? I don't really care about prestige but then again I want to put myself in the best position possible for any med school: Yes, once the pandemic is over, maybe you will have the opportunity to shadow doctors. You could also do scribing, if you’re super serious about medicine (I think you should do something you actually enjoy with your gap year instead of doing something just for premed).
  2. Is this summer a good time to take the MCAT or should I postpone? Does it look better to take it closer to when you apply? I took gen chem freshman year, bio as a sophomore, orgo summer after freshman year, and would be taking biochem/physics this semester if I took the MCAT this summer. (I've taken AP Physics C - both parts and got 5's on both so I'm not too worried about that combo). You should probably take it during your gap year. However, only take the MCAT if you think you’re ready, whether it’s 4 months from now or 4 years from now.
  3. How many volunteering opportunities should I try to get? I've already reached out to a bunch of opportunities - including one potential leadership opportunity that's tied to a volunteering opportunity. I don't want to overload myself but also feel like I need to play catch up. That would be helpful, but you need to focus more on clinical volunteering, i think. Start emailing any COVID testing site. Again, scribing will knock this stone as well, if you’re willing to give up different career options neuroscience major opens up for you.
  4. The only clinical opp right now is hospice but Idk if I'd be able to fit it in + working with late stage dementia patients seems tough emotionally but I guess that's medicine, right? Should I just wait until this summer/fall to get clinical or should I go for the hospice? Also, I might be able to do some shadowing at a local hospital this semester. The more the merrier, when it comes to clinical volunteering. Shadowing is not necessary once you pass 100 hours.
  5. Do virtual research hours count as research hours? I'd say I got in maybe like 150+ hours virtual and maybe like only 15 hours of actual lab time. You might get away with that. But virtual research can mean virtual experiments like docking or doing literature search. Just be honest about what you did on your application.
  6. What should I do during my gap year? Is it better to do something clinical like EMT, CNA, vs. Peace Corps or research lab? Again, do something you will enjoy, unless you’re desperate and serious about pursuing medicine.

I was also a neuro-major at a top 20 UG and was offered a scientist position at a major pharma company. Don’t leave those doors closed, and try to gain broader perspectives in what you want to do. My aspiration to become a doctor also bloomed in my junior year (although I already had lots of clinical volunteering because I was interested in helping people not because i wanted to do medicine). It’s definitely possible, but taking a gap year felt so much relaxing, making money, traveling with my friends and family, and forming crazy memories of my early 20’s. After a nice break, I feel more than ready to conquer all the burnouts from med school.
 

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