Who Should Take a Gap Year?

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Take a year “off” to catch your breath and refocus your energy.

While you may be feeling impatient to apply to medical school, ultimately, it will be in your best interest to take your time in completing each step of the application process. You want to do your best! If you try to take a full course load while studying for the MCAT and writing your personal statement, the quality of your work and/or your scores will reflect how overwhelmed you can become. Multi-tasking is a myth. The brain can only focus on one task at a time. In order to apply successfully to medical school, you have to plan for success—each step of the way. Following the example of the Tazmanian Devil will only get sand in your eyes and potentially lead to a disastrous result.

You may want to consider taking a gap year for the following reasons:

• To prepare for and take the MCAT

If you did not receive a competitive score or if you are preparing to take the exam for the first time, give yourself the time and space to focus only on the exam. The feedback I have received from students who have taken the test multiple times is that they had to make time to focus on their preparation. Cutting down on work hours and other activities can be helpful. Most importantly, do not plan on studying for the exam while you are taking classes. Over the years, I have seen it happen time and time again that students hurt either their MCAT score, their grades, or both.

• To create an increasing trend in your GPA

It is essential that you have an increasing trend in your GPA when applying to medical school. This can make or break your chances of acceptance. The selection committees need to see evidence that you can handle a heavy science course load with flying colors. If you have a decreasing trend in your GPA, I recommend taking a gap year to improve your grades.

• To pursue a graduate degree in an area of your interest

If you are passionate about a particular field or research interest, pursuing a Master’s Degree can provide you with the opportunity to further explore that topic as well as help you become a more competitive applicant to medical school since you will gain expertise in that subject. It could also help you establish a network of professional support and guide the direction of your medical education.

• To gain life experience

Many students feel “burned out” after completing their Bachelor’s Degree. Taking a year “off” to catch your breath and refocus your energy can help you approach the application process with more confidence. You can use that time to strengthen your application in a number of important ways—completing a medical mission, volunteering for Teach for America, gaining industry experience, etc.

*Plan on taking a lighter load to accommodate the stress and challenges of submitting your primary application, completing secondaries and interviewing.*

Students who want to give themselves more time to create a more competitive application often take a gap year to better prepare themselves. Applying with a competitive MCAT score, an increasing trend in your GPA, a graduate degree in a field that you love, and/or more life experience are all compelling reasons to take your time and complete each step of the application process at your own pace.

This is not a race! Focus on reaching your ultimate goal, not pushing yourself so hard that you hurt your chances of acceptance or have to reconsider your options.

Download your free special report: Navigate the Med School Maze!

Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs.

Related Resources:

• A Second Chance at Medical School: Applying to Postbac Programs
• Insights & Advice of a Non-Traditional Med Student
• Why Consider Participating in a Special Masters Program (SMP)?

Everything You Wanted to Know About MD/MBA Programs

Listen to the full conversation about MD/MBA programs with Dr. Maria ChandlerIntrigued by business and medicine? Not sure whether you want to be the next Steve Jobs or Jonas Salk?

AST’s guest this week is the person who can show you how to combine these two complementary, but in some ways disparate interests, with an MD/MBA.

Meet Dr. Maria Chandler, founder of the Association of MD MBA Programs and the UC Irvine MD/MBA program, MD/MBA Faculty advisor at UC Irvine, Assoc Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Assoc Professor at the Paul Merage School of Business, and practicing pediatrician.

Tune in to our conversation for fascinating insight about the place where medicine meets management.

00:01:11 – Featured Applicant Question: Should I apply in Round 2 with my good essays, or apply Round 3 with excellent essays?

00:04:10 – Why Dr. Chandler decided to pursue an MBA.

00:06:30 – The story behind the founding of the UC Irvine MD/MBA Program.

00:08:08 – Inviting the east-coasters to Irvine in February: The founding of the Association of MD MBA Programs.

00:10:42 – Curriculum at the typical MD/MBA Program.

00:13:04 – Culture gap alert! What it’s like to go to b-school after med school.

00:17:51 – MD/MBA career paths.

00:20:15 – Do most MD/MBAs leave clinical medicine eventually?

00:22:14 – How and why this new degree became so popular so fast.

00:27:01 – The dual-degree application requirements.

00:31:35 – Maria’s dream for the future of medicine.

00:36:35 – Advice for applicants considering an MD/MBA.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Related Links:

• The Rise of the M.D./M.B.A. Degree
MD/MBAs: Fixing Hearts & Healthcare
UC Irvine M.D./M.B.A. Program
• Contact Maria: mchandle@uci.edu

Related Shows:

• Getting Into Medical School: Advice from a Pro
• MCAT Mania: How to Prepare
• Healthcare Management at Wharton and at Large
• Med School Application Process: From AMCAS to Decisions

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Download your free copy of 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Med School Application Essays!

Post-Interview Advice for Med School Applicants

Click here to download your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success!

All that’s left for you to do is wait patiently for an acceptance.

“Post-Interview Advice” is excerpted from the Accepted.com special report, The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success. To download the entire free special report, click here.

As the interview day is nearing its end, you may find yourself in the company of other applicants. Try not to engage in discussion about your interview in detail. These conversations only serve to increase anxiety and often lead to self-doubt. Talking about the school or topics you may have discussed with current students is great, but steer clear of discussing the actual interview content with your fellow applicants.

Also, don’t forget to follow-up with a personal thank you note to your interviewer(s). If you had a special experience with a student, student group, or a non-interviewing faculty member, then include that experience in your note.

When your interview experience is over, spend some time taking stock of all you’ve heard. Think about whether this school felt like home to you. Could you blend in with the current students? Did you connect with the faculty? Did you feel like there was a place waiting for you there – a place where you could grow both personally and professionally? If so, then all that’s left for you to do is wait patiently for an acceptance.

Click here to download your complete copy of The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success!

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

• Insights, Advice and Experiences of a Non-Traditional Med Student
• Med School Application Process: From AMCAS to Decisions
Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for Success

Should You Apply to a Postbac Program?

Click here to order your copy of The Definitive Guide to Pre-Medical Postbaccalaureate Programs Not sure if your profile and qualifications are strong enough to get you into med school this year? Maybe it’s time to consider another route to med school: attending a post baccalaureate program first. This is an excellent option for pre-meds who are concerned that their low stats, non-science education, or lack of clinical work experience aren’t quite up to snuff in the race for acceptance to med school

Don’t second guess yourself! You CAN achieve your dream of becoming a physician with the experience and knowledge you gain with a pre-med postbac program.

And to help you…we’d like to unveil the just-released, outstanding new book that will walk you through the postbac admissions maze, The Definitive Guide to Pre-Medical Post Baccalaureate Programs.

Written by former postbac program director and current Accepted.com consultant, Alicia McNease Nimonkar, this guide will teach you:

• The pros and cons of attending a postbac or specialized master’s degree program.

• Success stories of former postbac students who are now medical students and doctors.

• An index of all the different programs in the U.S.

• Tips on how to study and succeed in a post baccalaureate program

…and more!

Get your hands on the definitive postbac guide on the market today. Buy The Definitive Guide to Pre-Medical Postbaccalaureate Programs now!

Click here to download your guide!

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Get the Scoop on the New MCAT

Tomorrow is the day! I am truly excited to introduce you to Dr. Anthony Lafond, MCAT Guru from Next Step Test Prep, at our upcoming live webinar, The New MCAT: What’s Hype, What’s Real, and What You Can Do Today.

Just one question for you – are you ready to take on the new MCAT?


Get the tools you need to get the MCAT score you need tomorrow night (Tuesday, Nov. 18th) promptly at 5:00 PM PST/8:00 PM EST at our webinar The New MCAT: What’s Hype, What’s Real, and What You Can Do Today.


Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best