How a Gap Year Can Help You Succeed in Medical School

March 3, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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If you are like many premed students, you are pretty ambitious. You may have it all planned out. Immediately after graduating college, you plan to enter med school and continue on the path to becoming a doctor. But have you considered taking a detour and following a different timeframe? 

Gap Medics students form a pyramid at Gangilonga Rock in Tanzania!

What is a Gap Year?

A gap year is pretty much just what it sounds like. It is a specific period of time off between studies. Some students take a year off between high school and college. If you are interested in becoming a doctor, a gap year between college and medical school may be advantageous.

Some students choose to take a gap year to pursue personal goals, such as getting married or traveling. In other instances, a gap year may present opportunities to work or be involved in research.

Volunteering your time working for a cause you care about is also an excellent way to spend a gap year. There are many types of volunteer work, which involve traveling abroad or working in your community. Keep in mind, not all volunteer work has to revolve around medicine.

If you think you do not have a good shot at getting into med school, a gap year can also be used to increase your chances of acceptance and beef up your resume. Research projects, volunteer work and taking additional classes may enhance your application packet.

Keep in mind, sometimes a gap year is best spent focusing on something other than your medical school goals.  After all, if you do go to med school, it will consume a large part of your life for the next several years. A year off before starting such a big challenge may be just what you need.


According to research conducted by the American Gap Association, students who took a gap year had a high rate of job satisfaction when they finished their education. Not only can a gap year help you personally, it may also help you succeed as a med student.

A gap year may give you time to mature. Taking a little time off between college and medical school, gives you time to grow up. Although some people are ready for med school right after college, other students benefit from a little more time to mature. During your year away from school, you may have the time to explore new things, which can help you get to know yourself better.  

If you are spending your year off working or doing volunteer work, it may also strengthen your commitment to becoming a doctor. Working in another capacity may help you realize there is nothing you would rather do than be a doctor, which may help you work hard.

A gap year or two also allows you to prepare financially. Although not everyone will spend their year off working, earning money for school can ease some of the financial strain. The more money you can save, the better off you will be.