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How to make the most out of my Gap Year?

I am a junior pre-med student and plan on taking 1 Gap Year. I have already taken my MCAT and don't feel like I need to retake it. I also have experienced research throughout college and don't have the passion to continue with that. I am a finance major and am considering using that degree to apply to some jobs in the non-profit sector so I can work and relax for a year. Thoughts? #college #premed #medicine #gapyear #nonprofit #medical

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Sara’s Answer

Are you passionate about practicing medicine? Are you considering non profit finance work as something you can do with minimal involvement?
I don’t mean to be rude, but your words read as if you’re completely exhausted, and don’t won’t to work at anything with very much effort, which would be fair to neither yourself nor a non- profit.
Alternatively it sounds as if a Gap Year May be exactly what you need. If you are burnt out, a few weeks of self care, good diet and rest, with some good exercise may be just what you need. If you can afford it, maybe a spiritual retreat, or a yoga retreat?
If you intend to use your Gap year to make a final decision between medicine and finance- or a hybrid, then by all means find a volunteer position or intern position- politics can always use finance knowledge, as can every animal rescue ever.
Sam Alexander offers excellent suggestions I think!
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Sam’s Answer

Anjali,
A gap year is a good idea and one that if spent well, can lead to some fantastic life experience, a little perspective and a way to get a creative spark about your future. An important thing to consider is what you'll do during the time off. Just taking off without a plan might actually be detrimental to you. Not having purpose, a job or any thing planned that you find exciting or interesting could lead to some negative feelings.

I would encourage you to write down answers to these 5 easy questions, that will get you thinking and planning and, hopefully help you set yourself up for a great gap year and, success afterwards. Be honest with your answers and with yourself and hopefully you have someone to discuss this with in person.

1) Why do I want to take a gap?
- Explore what brought you to the idea and decision and the goals you have for it.

2) What are some areas that peak my interest?
- construction, science, nature, technology.. the list goes on, but this is YOUR list.

3) What do I want to do over the gap year?
- Do do you want to travel? Get a job? visit relatives? Go camping? Volunteer? What do YOU want to do? don't limit yourself or your imagination!!

4) Who will I spend time with on your gap year?

5) Where do I want to live over the gap year?

Sam recommends the following next steps:

Answer these 5 questions.
Discuss it with a trusted adult and a trusted peer.
Review and think on what your goals are.
Start a plan to see what you can realistically accomplish over the gap year
Make your deicision and move forward!
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Cynthia’s Answer

Anjali,

You may consider using at least part of your gap year to have experiences which will both improve your medical school application and chance of admission, as well give you some direct patient experience. If you are wondering whether you actually want to do clinical medicine, this could be very helpful to you. Medical schools now like to see that the applicant has had some kind of experience in a clinical patient care setting. This could be as a volunteer in a community clinic or at a hospital. Or, depending on your background and previous experiences, you might be able to get a job.
Alternatively, you could look for opportunities to go with a non-profit organization that brings medical care to under served areas both in the U.S. and to many impoverished countries. Medical school admissions committees also are very happy see this kind of service work. If you think you might want to do this, I would start to look for it now, because some missions are planned months in advance, and it takes time to get you on board.
Good luck with your year and your future!

Cynthia recommends the following next steps:

Research medical NGO's, Humanitarian Medical Organizations
Look at the medical volunteer opportunities within your community
Network with other medical students nationally to find out about other possibilities
Plan for the part of your year when you are going to be relaxing!
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Hwal’s Answer

Anjali,

I'm a PA student in clinical year, and think I can perhaps relate to wanting to take a gap year. Finance sounds like a unique major for a pre-med, so make sure you have all the prerequisites before you apply to medical schools.

Provided becoming a physician is truly what you want and you have no doubts about it, you can take your gap year in a whole lot of different ways. I've seen some people travel, work and save, learn a musical instrument, focus on family, engage in biomedical research, write a book, etc.

Ultimately though, ask yourself what feels right for you. Medical education is a long journey, so if you feel there's something you want to work on or achieve before starting that journey, it might be helpful to figure out what you'd like to do if you were to take a gap year. I hope this helps.

Good luck!

Hwal
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