Taking a year off before applying to med-school

<p>My son is a junior at a small liberal arts college. More recently he had a meeting with his pre-med advisor and was told that he would have a stronger application if he took a year off to 'sure up his ap'. My family practicioner's son graduated from Williams, took a year off and is now studying at NYU Med. What I feel is that this is not an unusal request. On the other hand my daughter at Cornell had 2 friends apply to med school with no better extracurriculars than my son. My question is what do you think of this as to why some do and some don't, and what ideas for my son do you have as to what to do in the year off. I would appreciate hearing from med students who have had to deal with this delemma.</p>

<p>Without knowing the co-curriculars, your son's involvement with them, and a host of other things it's impossible for me to know exactly how necessary it is to "sure up his ap". While you may feel that your daughters friends had no better involvement, that's also hard to judge.</p>

<p>While I have not personally dealt with this, I have friends and former Kaplan students who were taking a year off, reapplying, or taking a year off between application tries. There are a ton of things that one can do to sure up an app, and what your son should do is dependent to a large extent on what his shortcomings are. The standard things are taking extra upper level science courses to up the science and overall GPA, retaking the MCAT and preparing more efficiently, more volunteering, more shadowing, practices with an interview coach, major volunteering projects like Americorps, Teach for America or the Peace Corps (all 2 year commitments but phenomenal on an app). </p>

<p>Obviously, he'll need to support himself, and it's important that whatever job he picks is at least "spinnable" into his favor. Things like phlebotomy, or medical records can be nice to get into a hospital. He could try to earn his EMT certification, or if near a medical school sign up to be a standardized patient to help current first and second year med students get used to working with patients. </p>

<p>The biggest thing I'd say is that social jobs are a major positive: even waiting tables as a full time job, or a side gig in a college town can be spun in his favor - I waited tables for 2.5 years while an undergrad, and interviewers at both places I interviewed seemed genuinely favorable towards it. I've had several MD's state that being in clinic is "like being a server" and I see the resemblence. Almost all fields of medicine are inherently social professions and forced social situations at that - much like waiting tables. One of my interviewers (who basically just loved everything about me) told me that he thought waiting tables was a perfect job for aspiring MD's because you have to go up and talk to new people, get the relevant information from them and make use of it, and that the juggling act of having 4 or 5 or more tables is similar to working through a busy clinic day. So it's something that shouldn't be looked down upon if that's where he ends up.</p>

<p>1.) I would recommend waiting tables as an undergrad if it doesn't interfere with other priorities. I would NOT recommend doing so as a full-time job during a year off. No, that's not right. Rephrase: I would not do so as his main reportable activity during his year off. Waiting tables for, say, the dinner shift would still leave him plenty of time during the day (or vice versa; lunch shift and then evening hours) to volunteer in a hospital, research lab, public school, etc.</p>

<p>2.) Generally taking a year off is done in situations where you need to retake the MCAT, want your senior year grades to show up on your application, or need extra experience - particularly research experience. It is certainly not an unusual request - in fact, the average age entering medical school is 25. While this is certainly driven up by the occasional 32 year old (my class has one) or 36 year old (my aunt started med school at that age), you can still see that kids who go straight through do not represent the median/mode either.</p>

<p>3.) The major disadvantage is simply that you're a year older. Medical training takes a long time, and delaying it can in some situations be annoying.</p>

<p>4.) The second disadvantage is that you'll be out of school longer, which some of my deans have noted makes it harder to adjust to the rigor of medical school.</p>

<p>5.) The third disadvantage is that it's kind of annoying to have to find a job and all that.</p>