A "gap year" is the time between the end of undergrad and beginning of med school. Whether you plan on taking a year or more off, or you don't get in your first time applying, make the most of your gap year. Of course, it can be hard watching your peers go through school ahead of you and watching your non-med school friends start their careers, but everyone has a different path in life ----and this is yours. Taking a gap year wasn't ever part of my original plan, but when I didn't get into school right away, I decided to make the best of it. I wasn't going to put my life on hold just because I wasn't able to start school right away. YOLO, right? ;-)
5 Reasons to Take a Gap Year
1. Make Some Money When I first moved to Tulsa, I got a job at a restaurant down the street from my house. I started out waiting tables, then bartending, and eventually I became the manager. I learned so much from this job, including my passion for wine, but I was also able to make (and save) a little money before starting school. Learning the business side of the restaurant industry also inspired me to get my MBA!
2. Travel Working in the restaurant industry allowed me the flexible schedule and extra spending money to get a lot of travel in during my time off. Baxter and I knew that our ability to travel once I started school would be much less, so we got right to work on that bucket list! Not all of our trips were big, but we were able to experience so much and we had so much fun traveling together!
3. Explore New Interests Did I mention my love of wine? I would have never been exposed to all that is involved in the world of wine had I not gotten that restaurant job when we moved to Tulsa. With a little help and encouragement, I was able to become a certified sommelier. Definitely would not have been able to do that while in school! Take this time to explore new hobbies and find new passions outside of school and medicine.
4. Enjoy Spending Time with Family and Friends In case you haven't heard, med school is a major fun-sponge. It will try to soak up any ounce of social life you might have. I am most grateful for the time I was able to spend forming new friendships, strengthening old friendships, and hanging out with my fam. There will be many a wedding, birthday party, etc. that you will have to miss while in school, so really take advantage of this time.
5. Recharge After being in school for 16 years, my brain was SO happy for the break. And knowing that I would eventually be back in school for another million years, made this break even sweeter. For the first time I was able to focus on things that didn't involve assignment deadlines and exam schedules. I was nervous starting back to school having been out of it for a couple years, but I came back strong and ready to go! I was pumped and excited to learn. I am not sure I would have had the same enthusiasm had I not taken time off.
While there are many benefits to the more traditional path to med school, I encourage others to not be afraid to take advantage of the gap year. The career path you have chosen is not an easy one, so enjoy all the things life has to offer you while you are young!