Make the Most of Your Gap Year

June 18, 2013

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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“Gap year” is a term you may hear rather often as a medical student. So what exactly is it?

A gap year is basically that period of time between the end of your undergraduate year and the beginning of medical school. Although it is called a gap year, it could stretch to more than a year, depending on your particular circumstances.

Medical students take a gap year for several different reasons. Some may want more time to study in order to strengthen their MCAT or GPA scores, some may need that time to raise money to repay a debt, and others may want to participate in medically related volunteer work. Some students take it simply because they feel like they need a break and want to unwind, while some may be forced to take a break when their application to medical school gets rejected.

On safari in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania Whatever your reason for taking a gap year, it makes sense to make the most of it. This is going to be the only free time you are going to get for a long time. Use it well. Here are a few things you should consider…

Work To Strengthen Your GPA: Whether you already have a high GPA or not, using this time for academic enhancements offers tremendous rewards.  Enroll in a course that you did not have time to take earlier that could help you in the future.


Prepare For Your MCAT Exam: Without a full course load vying for your time, this is the perfect time to prepare for the MCAT.

Consider Shadowing Physicians: Shadowing a physician is an eye opening experience. It gives you a realistic view of a day in the life of a doctor. You experience firsthand what working in a healthcare environment is really like.

Get Some Lab Experience: Real experience in a lab or research facility can help you get a better understanding about what is involved in various research processes, which can ultimately give you a more in-depth knowledge about medicine. 

Seek Out Volunteering Opportunities Abroad: Medical facilities in developing countries can be short staffed or lacking supplies and facilities, so an extra pair of hands is always welcome. Volunteering in these environments can be challenging but you will be so much stronger, passionate and knowledgeable from the experience.

Take Time For Some R&R: The road to medical school can be rigorous and demanding. If you do not give yourself time to stop and relax, you are heading for an early burnout. Stop. Rest. Travel. Or just spend time chilling so when the time comes to get back into the thick of things, you are fully recharged!