If you had asked me in the beginning of undergrad if I would ever consider taking a gap year, I would have said, “heck no!” I didn’t want to waste any time becoming a doctor! Flash forward to my senior year of undergrad and my answer completely changed. I was mentally drained and knew that it wouldn’t be fair to my body and mind to try to push myself straight through to med school. Some people have the ability to go straight through, but I was not called to be one of those people. My story looked more like this:
The big question that I was asked in my interviews was why I took time off before applying. My answer was simple: I wasn’t ready. I needed time to recover from an intense four years in undergrad before jumping into an even more intense four years in medical school. When I graduated, I was disenchanted and the fire inside me was dimming. I needed to remember why I wanted to be a doctor. My time off helped me do just that. I will always be a proponent of taking time off in between undergrad and med school. It allows you to mature, to really think about why you want to go to medical school, to explore other options, to take your time studying for the MCAT, to change your mind about applying to medical school, to change it back, to find yourself outside of academia, to choose what you want to do for YOU.
If you are someone who is going straight into medical school with no time off, I admire you. If you are someone who is going to medical school after taking time off, I understand you. Whatever path you take, it is wonderful because it’s your path. At the end of the day, we are all going to be incredible physicians in our own way and in our own time.