Health Professions Advising

Gap Year Options

Gap (Glide) year(s) have many advantages and can be a great option for some students. Below are some examples of the kinds of opportunities students can pursue to gain additional experience, while enhancing their candidacy. Plan to speak with a health professions adviser to discuss various options and what makes the most sense for you as an individual.

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Post-baccalaureate Pre-medical Programs

Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program (For those lacking the science classes required for admission.)

“Have you given any thought to a post-bac program?” You may have heard heard this question at some point on your journey toward medical, dental, or veterinary school.  Post-baccalaureate pre-medical  programs can be a great option for some students, but they can differ widely in the kind of assistance they offer.  Here’s a quick primer so that you can begin to consider which kind of program—if any—would best serve your needs.

Typically, post-bac programs cater to two very different populations of students. The first type of program is oriented specifically toward students who have few, if any, of the pre-medical pre-requisites. These students are called “career changers,” even if they have never had a career. Thus, a student with an anthropology degree and no science courses who has just received her BA would be considered a career changer, as would a person who has worked as an engineer for seven years, and who has taken general chemistry and physics but no biology, organic chemistry, or English. There are two main types of programs for career changers. Formal programs have a fairly rigorous and selective application process, offer extensive guidance from a health professions adviser, and offer a cohort experience in which you get to know the other students in your program. The University of Rochester’s Post-baccalaureate Pre-medical Program falls into the formal and career changer categories. Less structured programs may not require an application and generally let you complete courses at your own pace, meaning that you can decide whether to be full or part time. This option may be preferable for someone who wants to continue working while taking post-bac classes.

Students who have already completed their pre-medical pre-requisites but who believe that their records are not sufficient for med school admission are best suited to academic enhancement post-baccalaureate programs. These programs fall into two main categories: graduate and undergraduate. If a student has taken advantage of many biology courses as an undergraduate, then a graduate level program might be a better fit. Conversely, if a student has taken few science courses beyond the pre-med pre-requisites, an undergraduate program could be preferable.

It’s a good idea to meet with a health professions adviser to clarify which types of programs might best suit your needs. In addition, you’ll need to work through the answers to several questions:

  • Do I want to work while I complete my post-baccalaureate classes?  If so, a full-time program is a bad idea.
  • Do I need to incorporate some additional experiences, such as lab work, clinical work, or altruistic work?  Do I need the program to help me make these connections?
  • Where do I want to live?  Am I able to relocate?  Will I do better work if I am living near friends/family/partners, or will I do better work if I am away from them?
  • What can I afford to pay?  Am I willing to take out student loans?
  • Will I need financial aid?  Does the program have financial aid available?
  • Would earning a master’s degree be helpful to my specific career goals?
  • What happens if I decide that medicine is not for me?  Will this program turn out to have been a waste of time?

You should also keep in mind some questions to ask of post-bac programs:

  • What kinds of advising do you offer?  How accessible are the advisers?
  • Will you write my health committee letter?
  • Do you offer MCAT/DAT/GRE support?
  • Is there a linkage program?  How exactly does this linkage work?  Who is eligible for the linkage?  
  • Are special programs offered for post-bac students?
  • May I speak with or e-mail a current post-bac student?