5+ Year Member
Mar 18, 2010
Land of Beer and Cheese
Attending Physician
Has anyone heard of a student taking a year off after med school but before residency for anything besides like having a child? Kind of hoping/dreaming about finding a way to spend a year in a spanish speaking country (thinking Ecuador or Peru) working at a hospital at an underserved area. I am at D.O. school so not sure how that would work (do/md) but I have to feel that having graduated from U.S. medical school, despite not yet from residency, has got to carry some weight somewhere. I realize come nov. of that year I'd have to spend a month or so back in the states depending on how interviews are arranged. I'd love to learn spanish and am particularly interested in working in areas with high spanish speaking populations. Not really curious about hearing about all the logistics of everything, loan repayment, etc, just kinda want a broad response on if anyone has heard of a student doing this and whether or not it was beneficial when trying to match. Thanks guys/gals!

Blue Dog

Fides et ratio.
Gold Donor
10+ Year Member
Jan 21, 2006
Attending Physician
Yes, people have done it. I would advise against taking more than one year off, however, as you'd be surprised at how quickly your skills will atrophy, particularly before they've had a chance to become ingrained with experience.
Nov 21, 2009
You may want to consider remaining technically enrolled in your school so you can delay paying your student loans, otherwise you will likely have to begin repayment after the 6 mos. grace period. Many private loans do not have a grace period and if you took off time after undergrad, you may have used up private loan grace periods so take that into consideration as well.

I graduated with my class but remained technically enrolled in my school for a year prior to residency to bypass the loan issue. Of course the interest piles up ;)


Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Aug 4, 2003
Visit site
Do your homework before you go abroad. Many countries outside of the US don't recognize a DO degree as a medical degree. They consider it more akin to chiropracters so if you don't have educational sponsorship, you may be stuck doing non-medical work, further eroding your skills.


Fooled by Randomness
15+ Year Member
May 28, 2003
Without cell reception
I would advise against taking the time off unless the loss of life, limb, or sanity is iminent.

Each year you sit out, you become less competitive (I believe competitiveness drops exponentially with respect to time, ceteris paribus). In the majority of cases you can only partially make up for the drop in competitiveness with other scholarly activities.

Taking time off really depends on your desired specialty, route for residency (ACGME vs AOA), and your loss of competitveness over during time off. Don't be fooled by early interview invites or amount of invites. Programs have deep rank order lists as of late. See unfilled programs list from 2009-2010. Interview and rank at a wide range of programs within a specialty. Some programs (JPS comes to mind) does such a wonderful job of recruiting that applicants may be lead to believe that they don't need a deep match list. Remember, every program wants applicants to rank their program number 1 so they may have their pick in the match.
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