Pros and Cons of Applying to Medical School After Your Third Year of College | Medical School Admissions Physician


More than half of medical students take at least a year from leaving college to starting medical school, and that percentage is growing, according to a 2019 study report by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

When considering applying to medical school, remember that the application and interview is an approximately year-long process that begins shortly after the junior year, if you choose not to take a year sabbatical. Conversely, those who apply after their senior year of college will automatically have a gap year.

There are benefits to each approach that should be weighed when sketching out your future timeline.

Benefits of Applying to Medical School After Junior Year

You are a pro at taking tests. Taking premedical college courses requires a high degree of time and stress management skills. You’ve probably discovered what works for you. Jumping straight into medical school with these skills in hand can make you a more confident candidate and student.

You are used to studying. College courses will never fully prepare you for the amount of study required by medical school, but they can ease the transition. Taking a gap year or more can be like getting off the treadmill and canceling your gym membership. Your brain and your habits can warp, just like your body. Sure, you can always get back into shape, but it may seem like an uphill battle at first.

You’re tired of waiting and want that white coat now. Maybe you always knew you wanted to be a doctor. It’s awesome. Now you are reading this article and wondering what are the possible reasons for postponing the ultimate goal. Many students are eager to get started in medical school for a myriad of reasons, whether it’s a lifelong passion for medicine, excitement, or the eagerness to start paying back. their undergraduate debt. If the idea of ​​a gap year sounds like a waste of time, it’s probably not the right choice for you.

Your mentors are more accessible. When it comes to asking for a letter of recommendation, once you have a solid relationship with your mentor, there’s no better time than the present. When I completed my AMCAS application two years after graduating from college, I struggled to reconnect with mentors after several years.

There’s no way to tell, but I suspect the best letters of recommendation often come when you’re still actively working or have recently worked with someone. You’re fresh in that person’s mind, who can add small details about your performance or personality that can help their letter — and, by extension, you — stand out.

Benefits of Applying After Graduation

You are older. When it comes to being a doctor, older people can be better. I have seen many patients comforted by a few gray hairs around the temples. This profession will challenge you in ways that are hard to anticipate. Some of these changes will be difficult and it takes maturity to embrace this type of personal growth.

Being a doctor also requires emotional maturity. Who hasn’t heard the line: “I want to be a doctor because I like helping people”? The medical profession deals as much with biology as with psychology.

Many people enter medicine because they enjoy science, but the emotional aspect is inextricably linked to the profession. There’s nothing like a few extra years of living in the “real world” outside of your college bubble to give you some perspective. Part of treating patients is knowing where they come from.

Find your balance. At some point in your life you will have to ask yourself how, exactly, you would like to spend your time. What does work-life balance look like to you? If college and medical school feel like the balance is tipping, you’re not alone. You mean well, and maybe you decide the balance part can wait.

However, taking a year or more between college and medical school can be a great time to discover the activities, people, and priorities that help you keep your life in balance, such as making time for artistic pursuits. or prioritize a weekly phone call with a loved one. friend. Knowing which parts of your life are essential to your well-being is the key to success.

More resume building. Fair warning: your CV will never cease to matter. A gap year or more can give you time to fully commit to something. Maybe there’s a research project you’d really like to see published, or an exciting volunteer trip abroad. I spent two years completing a post-baccalaureate fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. It was exciting to have a real job from 9am to 5pm (at least for a little while) and for once I wasn’t balancing research with the other classes.

Some students will take gap years to conduct research or pursue higher education such as public health, or even volunteer abroad. This time can be fulfilling and could help you apply for residencies and fellowships, and even inform your specialty and career choices. How you fill in a break can create great conversation on the day of the interview.

You are not sure. Starting medical school is a big decision, and once you start it can be expensive to quit. A friend left medical school after two years. That’s a lot of debt without a degree. There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind, but why not take the time to reassure yourself and your bank account that this is the right decision for you?

Consider taking a year to gain more clinical exposure, such as being a scribe, which will help you imagine what a career in medicine would entail. My work at NIH also included a clinical component, which meant that I had two years of clinical experience under my belt before starting clinical rotations in medical school.

By the end of the first year, I felt comfortable talking with patients and their families, and I was sure that medical school was where I wanted to go next. You can use this time to help you decide if medical school is the right choice for you, and to become a better candidate – and medical student – ​​in the process.

When it comes to deciding when to apply to medical school, there is no right answer. But if you choose to wait, make that time work for you. The sabbatical year is a misnomer because it suggests a break or intermission. This time should be anything but.


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