Take a gap year?

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[insertname]

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Basic background information:

Undergrad university: State School
cGPA: 3.9
science GPA: 3.89
MCAT: 37
Gender: M
English and Arabic (fluent), French (advanced intermediate), Spanish (intermediate), German (basic)

Awards:
-PBK
-Goldwater

Research:
-fully-funded summer research internships
-Besides the summers, worked in same labs since sophomore year
First author publication from lab 1, working on thesis in lab 2
-Multiple conference presentations
-1 semester abroad to do research, presented results at international conference

Extracurricular activities:
-Editor-in-Chief of school's literary magazine
-TA for 3 years; physiology, english, and math
-1 semester of volunteering at local hospital; worked directly with patients
-Roughly 70 hours of non-clinical volunteering w/ leadership
-80 hours of shadowing, though all within my field of interest

Key concerns:
Volunteering (clinical and non-clinical), only shadowing professionals in the field I'm interested in pursuing, perhaps not showing sufficient commitment to medicine

I am primarily applying to MD/PhD programs, but I am aware that being a physician scientist is possible without a PhD, so I plan to apply to MD-only programs, too. Will taking a gap year to focus on the concerns noted above be worth it/necessary? I am new to this forum, so I'd greatly appreciate any helpful insight, even a potential school list.

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Someone please help, I need to make this decision within the next few days.
 
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Yes, you're going to need a gap year. You have no evidence to show that you know what your getting into, or that you want to be around sick people for the next 30-40 years, much less touch them. Shadowing is not evidence of this. Have you actually set foot in a hospital?

Also, you're going to need to show some evidence of your altruism with some non-clinical ECs.
 
Yes, you're going to need a gap year. You have no evidence to show that you know what your getting into, or that you want to be around sick people for the next 30-40 years, much less touch them. Shadowing is not evidence of this. Have you actually set foot in a hospital?

Yes, Goro. As mentioned above, I also volunteered at a hospital for a semester, where I was interacting directly with patients. This was interrupted by studying abroad this past semester, but it's something that I've picked up once again upon returning. I work directly with patients(testing them) in a setting that I eventually want to be in. The shadowing and clinical opportunities that I've had have certainly proven to me that medicine is the right path, but I'm concerned about how it will be viewed by others.
 
Also, I did not mention this above, but I have done considerable work to improve the undergraduate research program and experience for students at my institution. This has been my primary extracurricular commitment (did not mention above to maintain anonymity). Can altruism be evidenced in ways other than volunteering, such as this?
 
I have to be blunt in that all I see is evidence that you want to work ON patients, and not with them. How many hours of clinical volunteering was that semester? If < 100, the numbers need to go up.

I want to see you get outside your comfort zone. 4.0 automatons are a dime-a dozen, and I've seen plenty of high acheivers like you get rejected because of the lack of the right ECs. If you want ot be a research, it's easier to get a PhD.


Yes, Goro. As mentioned above, I also volunteered at a hospital for a semester, where I was interacting directly with patients. This was interrupted by studying abroad this past semester, but it's something that I've picked up once again upon returning. I work directly with patients(testing them) in a setting that I eventually want to be in. The shadowing and clinical opportunities that I've had have certainly proven to me that medicine is the right path, but I'm concerned about how it will be viewed by others.
 
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I have to be blunt in that all I see is evidence that you want to work ON patients, and not with them. How many hours of clinical volunteering was that semester? If < 100, the numbers need to go up.

Great, thank you for the feedback. Could you explain what you mean by working "on" the patients rather than "with" them? To clarify the situation a bit, I was a cognitive tester in an Alzheimer's clinic, and I eventually want to be a neurologist. This was ~125 hours, but will be ~200 by the time interview season rolls around. The shadowing experience was with neurosurgeons, their staff, and neurologists in a hospital setting. I also interacted with patients here and actually had the opportunity to serve as a translator for 2 families.

In terms of the "4.0 automatons" situation you mentioned, my extracurricular activities--especially the research-related ones I mentioned in a comment above--involve a lot of interaction, most often with superiors, for whom I also serve on advisory committees. Is that helpful? I'm certainly not a bookworm.

I apologize about all the questions! This is an important decision, so I want to make sure it's a carefully analyzed, well-informed one.:)
 
What I mean is that you appear to be more interested in what makes your patients tick, rather than helping them. Yes, we know that working on clinical research is going to help patients, but we also want to know that you're willing to take care of them and be sympathetic to their problems and needs, and not merely view them as interesting cases worthy of a report in Nature Medicine. They're patients, not cases.

What we are looking for is people who are willing to serve others. Improving data output or analysis is not the same as reading to poor children, working at a homeless shelter or a camp for sick children. We need you to just show some empathy and altruism, which I have yet to see you do. Thinking that your research-related activities is fulfilling that is part of the problem, not a solution.

Great, thank you for the feedback. Could you explain what you mean by working "on" the patients rather than "with" them? To clarify the situation a bit, I was a cognitive tester in an Alzheimer's clinic, and I eventually want to be a neurologist. This was ~125 hours, but will be ~200 by the time interview season rolls around.

In terms of the "4.0 automatons" situation you mentioned, my extracurricular activities--especially the research-related ones I mentioned in a comment above--involve a lot of interaction, most often with superiors, for whom I also serve on advisory committees. Is that helpful? I'm certainly not a bookworm.

I apologize about all the questions! This is an important decision, so I want to make sure it's a carefully analyzed, well-informed one.:)
 
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