Nov 22, 2009
8
0
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Hi, I was hoping to get advice on traveling during my gap year before medical school. I recently decided to work abroad in Japan during my gap year in order to boost my medical school application while doing something that is personally rewarding.

However, being abroad creates a problem for interviews. Traveling to the States every time I have an interview is financially taxing and impractical if I have a job. The job is also a one-year commitment, so I cannot come back early.

For people who traveled before going to medical school:
1) Where did you go?
2) What did you do?
3) If applicable, did admissions committees look favorably upon your traveling experience?
4) How did you deal with interviews?

Any input would be appreciated! Thanks. =)
 

roaming

5+ Year Member
Jul 17, 2009
200
2
91
Status
Pre-Medical
i sent you a PM with my responses. PM me back if you want to know more.
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
22,253
29,081
281
Status
Academic Administration
I see it from the other end... applicants who are not readily available for interviews and who must be interviewed during a narrow window of availability. It does restrict the schools wanting to interview you. Best strategy would be to apply on day one and turn around your secondaries as quickly as humanly possible and then plan to make yourself available for interviews in the last two weeks of October or the first two weeks of November (alternately the first 2 wks of Dec or the first 2 weeks of Jan). State this in a separate message to every school and at the bottom of your personal statement on the AMCAS (to be sure everyone gets the message). It means sacrificing some space for your personal statement but it will light a fire under the schools that might otherwise give you an interview date that it outside your window.

There is no point in being available for interviews during the last week of November or the last 2 weeks of December because schools tend not to interview very much during those holiday weeks.
 
Feb 16, 2010
37
0
0
Status
Pre-Medical
You really need to take two years off if you want to go that far away. I took a gap year because I wanted to travel to Asia, but after many talks with advisers and admissions people they advised against it. Unless you have killer stats you can't guarantee that you will have interviews at a certain time just because you have requested it. Many schools refuse to make special accomodations or interview via videochat/skype. Even if they don't say it up front, many schools have 10,000+ applicants so unfortunately they won't go out of their way to make special concessions during a time that is already extremely busy and crazy. Adcoms won't even honor "in the area" requests when they are flying coast to coast. They just send generic email response that say "sorry we can't anticipate when/if we will offer you an interview"

Other options (1) take two years off, if you are just out of undergrad it won't be that big of a deal (2) go from Feb-July, if you apply early and have good stats by Feb you should have had inteviews and possibly acceptances or be just waiting for acceptances (3) if you have a max 1 year for time off go abroad after your summer of first year, or during your 4th year electives.

I know my post was a bit of a downer, but I just went through the process and it is really horrible and long and drawn out and stressful. I think that going away for the whole application cycle would present an incredible amount of adversity and and possibly not end well and become very costly.
 
Feb 18, 2010
8
0
0
Status
Non-Student
Even with little clinical experience, a medical job can provide tremendous assistance to local communities with scant healthcare systems. For the gap year traveller, this is an excellent opportunity to gain experience, hone new skills and work with a variety of patients and colleagues. Many admissions actually find this helpful because students opting to take gap years, during become more "mature and have some real world life experience".
 
Jul 30, 2009
268
1
0
Status
Pre-Medical
I'm also completely set on traveling before med school and doing service work. I decided, however, to apply in my senior year of college and defer my final acceptance choice, explaining the work I'll be doing and why I need this, not only for my sanity but to help me in med school.

I've heard most schools are compliant with deferral requests, and it's not like I (or you) are simply frittering away a year working at McD' or some supermarket.

The important thing is being able to tie your immediate year-long plan to your overall career plan; show that you will gain something from the experience that will continue to benefit you down the line.
 
Nov 22, 2009
8
0
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Hi, I just really wanted to thank you for your responses! I'm still researching what to do, but it's great to get so many different perspectives - both realistic and encouraging. :)