A guide to working during your gap year

May 30, 2016


For those who plan to enter the medical profession, a gap year can be a year well spent. Some people take a gap year between high school and college to figure out what type of medical work they want to pursue. Others use a gap year to travel and have an adventure or two before they buckle down and return to their studies. But some people have practical plans for their gap year. They want to spend the time working and possibly saving money.

Gaining Medical Experience

If you are considering a gap year to work, the best way to make the most of it is to have a plan. Consider what type of medical career you are interested in and try to obtain a job that will allow you to learn more. For example, if you are interested in being a nurse, apply for a job in a hospital or doctor’s office. You may be able to get a job as a monitor tech, clerk or scribe, which will give you the opportunity to be in the medical environment. Working in a medical environment can help you learn more about the day to day responsibilities of different health professions.

Landing a job that involves direct patient care can also be helpful. Some healthcare facilities and agencies may provide on the job training for home health aides and EKG techs. Both jobs involve interaction with patients. Working with patients can help you feel more at ease in a medical setting and improve your communication skills.

Additional medical jobs may also be an option. Nursing assistant training is often only a few months and would allow you to work as a nurse’s aide in a hospital or other healthcare setting.

Keep in mind, you do not have to limit the type of work you do to the medical field. Consider a job doing something you are interested in, such as working for a nonprofit agency, an environmental cause or with children.

The Benefits of Working during Your Gap Year

You may have friends who are backpacking across the country or traveling aboard during their gap year, which can be exciting. But spending your gap year working can have several benefits that last a lifetime, such as the following:

Enhancing your resume: Not only can working provide you with valuable experience, it can improve your resume. Depending on the type of work you do, it may improve your chances of getting accepted into a specific university or medical program. Certain types of jobs may show you have the leadership or critical thinking skills needed to succeed in the medical profession.

Saving money: If you found a paying job, saving a little money during your gap year may be a goal. Depending on your financial situation, you may need additional cash for school or living expresses as you continue your education. If you take a gap year and work full-time, it will also give you the chance to see what it like is to balance your money. Your gap year may be the first opportunity you have to work full-time. Learning how to manage your finances including saving can be a great lesson you need in college and beyond.

A chance to mature: Whether you are considering a gap year between high school and college or between college and medical or dental school, it can help you in practical and personal ways. Taking a year to work in the “real world” can be an eye opener. Up until this point, you may have been a student. Working provides you with an opportunity to mature and learn more about yourself and the world.

Developing new skills: Working during a gap year, whether it is in a medical job or not, can teach you various skills. Using your gap year to develop marketable skills, such as computer or management skills will help you in the future.

Getting a Job during Your Gap Year

Maybe you have decided that working is the best way to spend your gap year. You’re ready, willing and able to put in a hard day’s work. But where do you start? If you have never worked before, you may not have much to put on a resume or on a job application. But everyone starts somewhere. Consider the following:

Build a resume: It can be a challenge to write a resume for your first job. But even without past employment experience, you can write a strong resume. Focus on the education and skills you do have. Consider highlighting relevant classes and awards you have earned. If you have any volunteer work or internships, write about your experience and responsibility.

Consider transferable skills: Think about the experience and skills you have that may not be obvious. For example, were you in a leadership position at school or in your community? Did you do any volunteer work? Consider any skills have you gained being the team captain or babysitting.

Don’t limit yourself: It never hurts to apply for a job you think you may not be qualified for. You never know what a potential employee is looking for. Even if your qualifications are not an exact match, you may have a skill or the right attitude to land the job

Be honest: Although you do not have to announce the fact you are only looking to keep a position for a year, be honest about your plans if asked. It is OK to let an employer know you are taking a year off and then plan to return to school.

Nailing your Interview: Your application or resume gets your foot in the door, but in many cases, your interview can make or break you. For someone with limited work history, their interview can be what gets them the job. Consider some of the suggestions below:

  • Be on time
  • Dress professionally
  • Be friendly and make eye contact
  • Use good manners
  • Show your enthusiasm for the job
  • Explain why you would be great at the job


If you have less than a year to play with but still want to gain some valuable work experience, our medical shadowing programs can be as short as one week and still give you a great insight into the life of a health professional. Check out our internship options below or contact us to find out more.


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.