The Pros and Cons of Taking a Gap Year

August 17

Table of Contents

After putting in a lot of effort on the pre-med track throughout college, you are now confronted with a crucial decision: 

  • Should you apply to medical school immediately?
  • Or would taking a year off before medical school is preferable?

Students are increasingly taking gap years before submitting AMCAS applications as the admissions process for medical schools gets more demanding. Depending on how they use their time off, students can profit from a gap year before medical school to a different extent.

Taking a gap year before medical school has advantages, such as helping you save money for college or giving you more chances to strengthen your application. However, it will undoubtedly take longer before you graduate as a doctor.

This article lists the pros and cons of taking a gap year before medical school. 

What is a Gap Year?

A "gap year" is the period between finishing your undergraduate degree and starting medical school. 

A student's gap year may last a year or more, depending on their unique circumstances.

A typical argument for taking a gap year is the need for more time to get more medically relevant experience, raise one's GPA, or submit one's MCAT scores. But it can also take a break or pay off debt. Some of the applicants who take a gap year may be those who need to reapply to medical school.

Taking a Gap Year Before Medical School: Pros and Cons 

Depending on how they use their time off, students can profit from a gap year before medical school to a different extent. 

Making a list of advantages and disadvantages can be a helpful step when determining what is best for you.

It is not always beneficial or harmful to take a gap year. Taking one has advantages, such as helping you save money for college or giving you more chances to strengthen your application. 

However, it will undoubtedly take longer before you graduate as a doctor.

To determine whether or not it is the best course of action for you, we have gone over the benefits and drawbacks of taking a gap year before med school.

The Pros of a Taking A Gap Year:

You Will Have More Time for MCAT Preparation

The MCAT is frequently one of the main reasons you should take a gap year before medical school. A gap year can provide you more time to sit down and study if your original MCAT score was much lower than the median scores for the colleges you are considering. Utilize your year off to study to the fullest so you can pass this exam with a higher grade.

You Will Get an Opportunity to Enroll in Post-Bac Courses 

Top medical schools demand that their students excel in the sciences. Taking a year off before medical school would allow you to take post-bacc scientific courses and increase your profile, which would help you raise your GPA and compete with your colleagues' academic skill sets.

Taking a gap year for post-back studies is crucial if you decide at the last minute that a medical career is the right choice for you. This will allow you to finish the prerequisite courses.

You Can Earn and Save Money

Exposure to patients and the healthcare setting raises your profile and provides an opportunity to save money. For medical schools, the average in-state tuition is USD 34,592, and the average out-of-state tuition is USD 58,688. These figures are not to be taken lightly, especially in light of the staggering USD 196,520

the average debt of medical students.

If you are considering whether to take a gap year, consider your financial circumstances and whether working for a year or two might be beneficial.

You Will Prevent Burnout

You have spent the past sixteen years or more attending school full-time. It could be the best time to take a break after all. Before entering a situation that is even more demanding, taking a break from the challenging academic environment may help you feel rested and renewed.

Instead of adding to the record-breaking amount of all-nighters you pulled in college, a change of pace may inspire you to ignite the greater desire to pursue medicine.

A Gap Year May Aid in Concentrating Your Focus

Suppose you focus on potential career sectors for your work/volunteer plans. In that case, you will acquire a genuine love and a realistic perspective of how it would be as a doctor in the future. 

In other instances, a person confident they wanted to work in a particular sector finds out first-hand that it is not their best option. In either case, it is a worthwhile lesson that will likely give you more direction and excellent performance when you enroll in medical school.

You Will Have Enough Time to Think About Your Job Options

Suppose you are resolved to attend medical school and consider it your only career choice. In that case, this will not apply to you. However, a gap year could be a fantastic opportunity to take a step back if you have also been thinking about other career prospects while in college.

Going to medical school instead is excellent if you do not like it. You do not want to leave any regrets because they could increase the stress you already experience while in medical school.

You Will Become Independent

A gap year before medical school allows you to learn about money management and real-world obligations, whether traveling or working a part-time job. While you probably had supervision during your childhood and undergraduate years, participating in any gap year activities can help you grow more independently and as a person.

Your college experience and future profession might benefit from having both independence and responsibilities. This is a good step while you take time off and prepare for medical school. 

The Cons of Taking A Gap Year:

You Could Lose Momentum

Taking a gap year before med school can slow down your academic progress. While taking a break after college helps prevent burnout, you might have to get used to studying, writing papers, and taking tests all over again. 

It Will Take a Longer Time to be a Doctor

One of the most prominent arguments against taking a year off before medical school is that people do not want to waste valuable time. Since medical school already consumes a significant portion of your life, most students want to finish it quickly and begin their residency. The sooner you enroll in medical school, enter the MD profession, and start receiving a salary, the faster you will graduate.

You Might Grow Accustomed to the Freedom

Let us face it. You have not taken a break in a while. As a result, having a gap year could make you fall in love with a life of total independence and lack of obligations. When it comes time to submit your AMCAS application, if you are set on becoming a doctor, this could hinder you from gathering all your application materials because you might not feel like returning to school.

You do not want to take the chance of losing your motivation or career. Although it could be a wise idea to reevaluate your job options, doing so will not guarantee that you will become a doctor.

You Can Wind Up Blowing Your Savings

Recall how taking a year off before applying to medical school can help you save money for the expensive tuition. Depending on how you use it, you might spend more money than you save during your gap year. You cannot save money if you take a trip overseas or sign up for an unpaid internship.

Instead, you could have to carry a financial burden before your medical school classes even start by spending money on things like rent, groceries, and bills.

Using Your Gap Year Carelessly Could Be Detrimental to You

Admissions committees will not be impressed if you spend your gap year before medical school watching non-stop movie marathons at home rather than acquiring valuable work experience in medicine.

In their secondaries, many schools ask students, "If you were on a gap year, what did you do?" You must be able to demonstrate your success with clarity and show your dedication to medicine throughout this rigorous process if you want to become a competitive applicant.

Your gap year may hurt you if there is a gap on your resume and clear areas where you could have gained more experience.

You Can Become Overly Attached to Your Work

Suppose you are one of the lucky few recent graduates who received their dream job after graduating from college. In that case, you might want to keep resisting the urge to enroll in medical school. You must set a time limit for your work and remember how long the medical school would take.

A Gap Year Before Medical School Requires Intensive Planning

Planning for your gap year can be both exhilarating and challenging. It may take nine months to a year to complete the planning phase. You may schedule your gap year by deciding what you want to do and thinking about how you will pay for it all.

It can be helpful to look into a few programs if you are considering taking a gap year to pick the one that best suits your needs. The more you wish to customize your gap year, remember that more planning may be required.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, only you can choose if taking a year off before medical school is your best course of action. 

Your unique needs and objectives will determine everything. You will be able to decide the best course of action by considering your future.

Perhaps you have been considering taking some time off since you are worried you will not be admitted to a US program. If so, maybe you should consider attending an overseas school more carefully. They offer some notable advantages that you might not anticipate.

You're no longer alone on your journey to becoming a physician

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!