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Gaining Experience

Gap Year Options

Before applying to a health professions program, many students will take one or more Gap or (Glide) year. There are many motivating factors as to why a student may seek a gap year. This may include gaining more exposure to the field, furthering studies, exploring opportunities before entering a rigorous program or working to save money in anticipation of the high costs of a graduate program. Ultimately, a gap year(s) will most likely enhance your candidacy by enriching maturity, knowledge and understanding. Below are some examples of the kinds of opportunities students can pursue.  Plan to speak with a career adviser to discuss various options and what makes the most sense for you as an individual.

Post-Baccalaureate Pre-medical Programs

“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.

There are a variety of different post-bac programs that prepare students with different needs. Post-bac programs can be divided into two main sections, "career changers" and "record enhancers." Career changers are for students changing careers and have not taken their pre-requisite courses during their undergraduate degree. Record enhancer programs are for students who have taken the pre-requisite courses but need to boost their GPA and thus take additional science based courses to highlight competencies. The AAMC provides a comprehensive database for post-bac programs available. The University of Rochester also has a Post-baccalaureate Pre-health Program that falls into the career changer category. 

It’s a good idea to meet with a career 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? 
  • 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 email a current post-bac student?