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Year off During Medical School

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quideam

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I'm planning on taking a year off between 2nd and 3rd years to do some international public health stuff and travel. Anyone else take or plan on taking a year off at some point during med school (b/w MS1 and MS2 or b/w MS2 and MS3)? I'd like to hear why you took the year and what you did (or plan on doing!)

Q
 

Gabadoo

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Wow, it's so funny that I found this post b/c I was thinking of asking the same thing! Is there any consensus about which years are better to take a year off? I was hoping to be able to take off b/w med school and residency, but now I was thinking it may be best to do it b/w MS-2 and MS-3 (this coming year...yikes!).

When have other people taken time off and what have you done with that time? I went in to medical school straight after college and I feel like I just need to have a year to myself in order to explore some of my other interests and just travel. Is it okay to simply travel or will residencies look down on that? Should I try and do something more academic? I'm already on track to get an MD/MPH and I can only see learning languages as an academic interest if I take time off...

Any help/advice from people who have take time off once they have already started medical school would be great.

Thanks!!!
 

scopicfrog

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hey, i'm currently on a year off between 3rd and 4th year. i did it because my boyfriend, who is a year behind me in med school, asked me to take the time off so that we could couple's match. while i initially felt a little weird about my reasons, i do not regret the choice at all. i did not take any time off between undergrad and med school, and i think that i should have because i was pretty burned out by the end of 2nd year. by 3rd year, i really did need a break. i love being in charge of my schedule again and not being on call. i'm doing research in a lab, and i love working here... everyone is nice and remembers my name. so i'm basically doing something that i love for a year for someone that i love. my family was worried because of "lost income" and such, but i'd rather be happy with my bf during residency than miserable without him. and i'll also pretty much get 2 4th years, and that rocks. :D
 

quideam

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Hey, this thread finally got going!! :)

I'm not sure about what the concensus is regarding when to take the year off - some say between 2nd and 3rd, some say between 3rd and 4th. But, I definetely haven't heard about taking it between 4th and residency.

In any case, I think it really depends on what you want to do in that year. If you want to do something clinical, obviously taking off after third makes sense. But, if you want to do something that's not clinical (which is what Gabadoo and I seem to want) then I think it's better to take off after second year.

Personally, i'm applying for a program that would let me do 6 months of international public health work abroad. I won't know whether or not I got accepted until late march / early april, and I don't have a back-up plan, so i'm a little bit nervous about that. I'm also really interested in learning languages during that year off, but it seems that any sort of language study is expensive, unless you can combine it with some program abroad and take the language lessons on the side (that's my plan).
 

funshine

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I know someone who's taking time off between the 3rd and 4th years to travel and do research on Chinese literature. It's through fullbright, but there are probably tons of similar fellowships out there. So it can be totally unrelated to medicine. pretty cool :)
 
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HamOnWholeWheat

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The reason for not taking time off between 4th yr and residency is that you look less marketable to residency programs. Since you've been away from the wards for so long, your clinical skills are somewhat atrophied. At least that's what the dean of my school told me (so I took time off between 2nd and 3rd instead).

HamOn
 

medicality

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I'm currently completing a year off and it has been an amazing experience. I did take a few years off before med school so hadn't planned on prolonging the student experience another year, but I am so glad that I did. Prior to med school I was a paramedic and when the Tsunami hit I was offered the opportunity to join a relief group in South Asia. Because I was in the middle of second year, the timing was not ideal and my deans were initially a bit skeptical. After some fabulous support from the faculty, they agreed to grant my request for leave for a period of one year. The school has since been very supportive.

I initially accepted a two to three month assignment but found it so rewarding that I decided to stay over here for the remainder of my leave and work on a variety of medical reconstruction and development projects. I have learned so much and had such amazing opportunities. The experience has reshaped my thinking about medicine, life priorities and my own career aspirations.

I would highly recommend taking the time while you can. It only gets harder and harder to do as we go through our careers. Though I am totally dreading returning to school and trying to study for Step 1 after a year away, I wouldn't trade the experiences I have had for anything. If I was trying to plan a year away, I would personally choose to go after third year. Even if you are not planning to go abroad in a clinical capacity, it is always useful to have those skills further developed and does open more doors.

If you are persistent and passionate, there are opportunities all over the world. Start networking now. Let people know what your interests are and ask for their input on options. It is sometimes surprising to see where the contacts come from, but they will come. PM me if you have any other questions. Good luck!
 

scopicfrog

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the reason that my dean of students suggested not taking a year off between 4th year and internship was because of loan payments... if you were not granted academic leave by your school, you may have to start paying on your loans.
 
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njbmd

Hi there,
Most of the students at my medical school that took a year off to do an MPH took the year between third and fourth year. If you take a year after fourth year, you lose some of your clinical acumen. The second most popular time is between second and third year after receiving a passing score on USMLE Step I.

njbmd :)
 

quideam

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Hey guys, thanks for your input/ suggestions! Why don't we start a list of possible opportunities for medical students? If you got em, share em!

As far as timing - taking off between 2nd and 3rd years is ideal for me because of personal reasons w/ fiancee - he's finishing his masters in CA anyway (i'm in NY) and won't be done until middle of next year, so if I took next year off then I could do my traveling/exploring/public health work for 6-8 months, then come back and get married :). At least that's the plan....

Q
 
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