Congratulations! You’ve just graduated from college. For many, this brings the end to their formal education. Four years was plenty for them, and it’s time to move onto the professional world. For others, they will be moving onto postgraduate degrees in the fall. Others might be jumping back into schooling in just a few weeks.
Among all of these, there is a sort of hybrid group. They are planning on continuing to study, and many have plans to, but not just right now. This upcoming year is going to be their gap year.
A gap year has a whole bunch of different options. You can go travel, work for a year, teach yourself French, something entirely different or a combination of all. It can be a time to focus on your next step or find out what your next step is going to be.
For those that applied to medical school during their senior year, this gap year is forced on you. That doesn’t mean you have to sit around twiddling your thumbs, waiting for the year to pass by. There are plenty of things for you to do and take advantage of.
Find a Job
Wait for a second, why should you be working during a gap year? Isn’t it supposed to be more relaxing?
Sure. A gap year could be a time to recharge your batteries before devoting yourself to your medical education, but it’s also a prime year for the experience. There are tons of options out there for those in between their undergraduate time and starting medical school. Create a compelling resume and brush up on interview questions if you plan on working during your gap year.
If you’re applying to medical school after graduating, you could be in for an extra gap year. It’s a perfect time to pick up some extra experience and extra money. During your gap year or years, you could be apart of clinical research or go into teaching.
With clinical research, you can put your name on a published study, something that would do wonders for your future residency application. With teaching, you’re gaining valuable experience leading and helping.
Lastly, maybe you’ll find a medical job and discover that you don’t see yourself going to med school. Even though you could have had your mind set on this objective for years, it’s better to have the experience now instead of being miserable the next four years.
While You’re at it, Do some Future Job Research
Chances are, you’re a little over a decade away from landing your first real medical job. Years of schooling and residency will eventually lead you to that moment where you’ll be able to walk in and say “I’m here”.
In between this moment and now, you’ll have to decide precisely what discipline of medicine you’ll want to pursue. Pediatrics? Surgery? Pathology? Anesthesiology? There are seemingly limitless options for what you could do and each area is different in its own right. The requirements are different, residency options are different, and licenses vary state by state. Those worries are for another day, but it doesn’t hurt to get ahead.
PracticeMatch is a job posting board that is meant for medical professionals. They have all of the details of what hospitals or practices are looking for. What are the work schedules like? What is the pay? What are they asking for? By no means do you have to make a decision right this minute, but it’s always good to plant an idea in your mind.
Take Some Time for Yourself
Finally, we’re in the best part of the gap year! The time to cut back and let loose, enjoy the ride, and take it easy. Once you start med school, it’s going to be a very long road. Not only will you be on the hook for at least another ten years of education, but there could be additional exams or licenses you’ll have to pick up along the way. It’s going to be a challenging, but very rewarding path.
Taking a gap year is almost always rewarding, as it’s important for your mental and physical health. Not only that, but many believe it helps them grow as a person.
That’s why it’s important to take some “me” time. Whatever that looks like, try and make the most of it. Maybe you’ve wanted to finish writing that book you started in the undergrad or join the ultimate frisbee club in town. Or better yet, take that wild trip you and your friends have been thinking about for years.
This is not saying your medical school career will be like jail, but you’re not going to have as much freedom as you will now. This will be your best year to do something big yourself for a while, so you should take advantage!