To take a gap-year or not to take a gap-year?

Thinking of applying to medical school? If so, buckle up because this path is quite the rollercoaster.


I am currently in the process of applying to medical school and let me tell you, it is terrifying. The stress and pressure of all of the necessary requirements really hits you a couple of months before starting the application.
This is a learning process, especially for me because I am in the midst of it all. You can apply to medical school anytime after your junior year of college. Some people decide to take a gap year after their undergraduate degree, others like to jump right in!
What’s better? I have heard many different opinions on this. Some say you should take a gap year to get real-life experience before you become a doctor. Others say it doesn’t necessarily matter.
In general, the majority of admissions counselors that I have talked to have encouraged taking a gap year to get real-life working experience, do research, get a masters, and/or volunteer abroad (my favorite option). Of course, this is not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of situation. Everyone is different and that is what’s so special about this process. What works for your might not work for me or vice versa.

In my case, I am not planning on taking a gap year, if accepted with this round of applications for medical school. However, medical school is quite competitive and if I do not get accepted the first time around, I plan on completing a masters degree and volunteering abroad. This will help strengthen my application and mold me into becoming a better doctor.

The scary part of this process is that nothing is guaranteed and you have to have a back-up plan. Your back-up plan does not necessarily have to completely erase the option of medical school. If you are passionate, keep trying. If you don’t get accepted the first time you apply (and a lot of doctors don’t get in the first time around), then you have to think positively. I am a firm believer of the notion that everything happens for a reason. Look at it as  a different path to achieving that same goal that you had. Things seem to always work in  our favor in the end. The most important advice that I can give about this process is to NEVER give up. Your passion and love for the field of medicine is bound to appeal to medical schools.
When you are stressed and worried, constantly remind yourself of why you want to become a doctor. Remind yourself of that passion that have for making a difference in the lives of others. Personally, I constantly remind myself of my Nicaragua trip. The image of seeing hundreds of hopeful families lined up outside of the mobile clinic comes to my mind. Seeing those little kids smile and their parents with tears in their eyes reminds me that going through this process will be worth it.
As cliché as this sounds, follow your heart and never give up. It will all be worth it.
♥ FH

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