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What to do with a gap year?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - DO' started by Catherine19, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. Catherine19


    Sep 30, 2014
    I had started my pre-reqs relatively late in my college career. Because of this, I will not have the course background sufficient for taking the MCAT until my senior year. This will necessitate me taking a gap year or two.

    What do people in my situation do with their gap years? I understand that people with less than stellar GPAs do DO grade replacement and/or post-baccs, and people with little clinical volunteering work at low-level hospital jobs.

    What are some other options?

    What value might something like getting a Master's degree have?

    My B.S. will be in Chemistry. Is it hard to get a job as a lab monkey and do that while I apply? I don't have any Chemistry-related internship experience to speak of. All of my undergraduate summers have been spent doing pre-med stuff.

    Thank you.
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  3. Dr. Hopeful

    Dr. Hopeful

    Jul 20, 2014
    I see a lot of people getting master's degrees on SDN. I have spoken with 3 separate admissions advisers as well as my undergrad pre-med counselor. All of them really had the same opinion about getting a master's: only do it if GPA is one of your weak points. If your MCAT is a weak spot but you have a 3.7 gpa (my application), really the primary goal is to get that MCAT score up. If your weak spot is volunteering or lack of clinical experience, then do that in your gap year. No one can tell you the right move to make because everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses in their application. Just make sure you identify your weaknesses in your app and strengthen them in any way you can over a gap year. Me personally? I did absolutely nothing my gap year (just continued working as a scribe and volunteering, didn't even retake the MCAT), made sure my application was sent as soon as we were allowed to, and I already have 3 acceptances, 2 of them from my top 3 schools. Did I get lucky? Quite possibly. But applying early and strengthening your app's weaknesses are the most important things.
  4. polylux

    polylux 2+ Year Member

    Mar 26, 2014
    • scribe - either for big company or for private practice group
    • research
    • volunteering
    • PeaceCorps/AmeriCorps/CityYear - other big service endeavors
    • work/make money somehow
    • travel
    • spend time with your family
    • pick up a hobby/book/show/etc you haven't been able to start because you've been drowning in premed crap
    • have fun
  5. Awesome Sauceome

    Awesome Sauceome SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

    Oct 30, 2013
    In a pine tree
    So my MCAT and grades were decent enough, but because of my poor timing and whatnot, I was forced into 2 gap years. Since I knew I didnt have to do the MCAT or take classes, I got a sweet job doing research at a medical school. Then I spent some time shadowing and volunteering some more. Otherwise I just got my application together so I could submit it on day one (which is a VERY big bonus). And then I have been able to take some time to travel, chill outdoors, play some video games, relax, etc. I am now in the middle of the second gap year (since I was just recently accepted). I will continue my research since I need the money. I will likely shadow in a couple of fields that I want to explore a little more before school starts. But otherwise I plan on getting in shape, relaxing hardcore, spending time with my wife, etc. I might get into some volunteering but nothing even remotely medically related - maybe urban farming or something - just something that I am interested in.

    As been mentioned before, if you are lacking clinical experience then do the scribe or CNA route (I would do scribe if I was you - more contact directly with physicians). Get some shadowing in and get a DO letter of rec. Or if you have plenty of clinical experience then try and get a research position or something. The general idea is to just make your application well rounded.
  6. LuluMed

    LuluMed 2+ Year Member

    Jun 25, 2014
    I would highly suggest scribing and also doing something you enjoy while you have the time. I am in my 3rd year of scribing and have picked up another job for fun during my gap year. I have gotten a bunch of compliments during my interviews on the amount of clinical exposure I've had through scribing - you really do learn a lot (and get paid!)
  7. JeBrAs

    JeBrAs 2+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2014
    I don't think that working as a CNA gets enough positive feedback. I have been working as a CNA for nearly two years now. I have never worked in a nursing home and was fortunate to have worked in a hospital and then in an infirmary in a prison. Through my job I was able to work with lots of physicians, PAs, NPs and nurses and network to participate in lots of doctor shadowing in many different specialties. Plus working as a CNA actually lets you touch and interact with patients which will be very helpful in preparation for when you get to start working patients as a medical student.
  8. kem22


    Oct 9, 2014
    I am also wondering what to do with a gap year.

    I have a 3.7 GPA from an academically rigorous school, a 26 MCAT (8 PS/ 10 VR/ 8 BIO), strong letters of rec from professors, the dean of women at my school, and doctors (both MD and DO). I am also very involved on campus, holding multiple positions and a job. I completed 6 weeks of summer research that involved medicinal chemistry. I have strong volunteering experience as I've been volunteering at the local ER for nearly 3 and a half years now. I also recently accepted a volunteer position in the ER as a Patient Care Coordinator, during which I'll receive my CNA certification.

    I was thinking about working as a CNA if I took a gap year, or getting my masters in Physiology. And obviously I am thinking of retaking the MCAT, however, it would be the 2015 MCAT which is a bummer.

    Any thoughts about the two options or other suggestions?
  9. baxt1412

    baxt1412 5+ Year Member

    Oct 29, 2012
    nice verbal

    you don't have to take a gap year. if you do, you'll want to continue volunteering, continue shadowing if you can, and preferably a job in patient care (although this isn't required... there are some people who just work in an office or restaurant while applying... it won't be a deal breaker).

    basically, as long as you don't do "nothing", you'll be okay.
  10. kem22


    Oct 9, 2014

    I've applied to MSU COM, MUCOM, and LUCOM. I'd prefer to go to MSU-COM but am a little worried I won't get in, so that's why I'm starting to plan for a year off.
  11. MedicineBoy

    MedicineBoy a boy who patiently hopes... 2+ Year Member

    Nov 20, 2012
    "Mother of Presidents"
    I would say do what you love!

    If you want to get a Master's degree, you will add to your future credential (e.g. MD/MS or DO/MS). In other words, you will know more than your peers on a particular subject.

    PM me if you want my opinion on what Master's program is cool!


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