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Medicine and Gap Years - good or bad?

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    Hi.

    I will be applying for medicine this year, and have started thinking about doing a deferred entry to go abroad for a full year (teach people english, experience a new culture etc) with a gap year company. I have a few questions and concerns and would love to hear your thoughts about this.

    I was wondering how medical universities would view this, would they be indifferent, view it negatively (since it's not directly medicine related - although I don't think they'd care that much because of the skills gained), or positively (developing new skills relevant to medicine)?
    Do universities have a set number of places for deferred applicants (which would therefore hinder my chances of getting an offer).
    Once I've submitted my application to UCAS and it's been sent away is there anyway to change it or tell the university to add / remove deferred entry.

    Also, if I don't get any offers I would have to come back and do the UKCAT/ BMAT / interview, which could be a bit of a hassle and expensive.
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    I'm not sure how they'd view it to be honest - it sounds like you'll be doing something useful, and if you just really play on the skills you'll gain then that can only be a good thing. As long as you've already got your medicine related stuff, you should be fine. Thats just a guess though, the only way you'd know is by emailing and asking, particularly about the places for deferred entry.

    I'm just thinking logically, but you'd have thought it would be easier to add deferred entry than remove it. I know my university has a policy that is something along the lines of 'if you decide to defer, tell us straight away and we'll see what we can do', and I'd imagine others are the same. You are much safer sticking to your decision than trying to change things, just in case they can't do it. But again, I'd email and ask to be sure.

    And as for if you don't get an offer, its fairly likely, as you probably know (the odds are against you I'm afraid) so if I were you I'd rethink your plans to allow for doing the UKCAT, BMAT and any interviews. Perhaps if you started your year in late August to give time for the UKCAT before you go, and just plan for the fact you may just have to hop on a plane back for an interview. Either that or in your reference give your availability for interview, and plan to be home for the Christmas, Jan ,Feb, March time.
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    It's worth checking on the websites of the med school's you're interested in for up-to-date policies, but in general a constructively-spent gap year is not a bad thing. Applying for deferred entry is sensible as it means you have two shots at getting in if needed, without having to change your plans.

    It is worth mentioning in your PS what you plan to do and why it will make you a better doctor. Though I did this and all the plans I wrote about there fell apart and I ended up doing something completely different. :o:
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    It depends on the med school and the course (5 year vs. 4 year).

    If you're applying to grad entry, it may be frowned upon. Paraphrasing here, but Warwick told us at the assessment centre "you're a graduate and therefore if you wanted to go travelling and get it out of your system you would have done it already. So unless you're on your deathbed we won't accept deferral requests".

    Best thing to do is call up and ask the unis your thinking of applying to. If they won't let you defer and you're really passionate about travelling, then go travelling and apply next year
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    I'm still thinking about whether choosing to do a deferred entry, although if I'm forced into a gap year at least I've looked at things to do.

    Do all / most universities do an elective? I know at least a couple of open days have mentioned this. Would there be much point doing a gap year if you'll be doing an elective? I know you'll learn key skills but it's also delaying a very long course (up to 6 years studying) and you would still have a chance to help abroad.

    @adsyrah - I'll be doing 5 year - 6 year undergraduate.
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    I personally can't recommend a gap year enough. Some universities actually welcome students to take one (HYMS certainly do)

    My gap year has been by far the best thing I've ever done. I can pretty much confirm that I wasn't ready for med school straight after A-Levels. I'm not painting everybody with the same brush - merely speaking from my own experience.

    I'd apply for deferred entry but give it a good go on your first application. Meaning, look to annihilate the UKCAT and write a killer personal statement. If it works out - you have your place for the following year. If you get your grades in hand, re-apply and still go ahead with your gap year plans. It's a win-win situation (providing you're eventually successful) which with adequate preparation and clever choices, should happen.
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    I applied this year for deferred entry for Medicine. I'm not sure if its good or bad, I think the med schools just want to know what is you'll be doing in that time, and how it will help you personally become a more rounded person.

    I tried to do this, through my personal statement and through the interviews,and now I'm lucky enough to have a place for next year, with an entire year ahead of me, can't wait!

    EDIT: I've got offers, not a place just yet, don't want to tempt fate:rolleyes:
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    (Original post by Rainbow Clouds)
    I'm still thinking about whether choosing to do a deferred entry, although if I'm forced into a gap year at least I've looked at things to do.

    Do all / most universities do an elective? I know at least a couple of open days have mentioned this. Would there be much point doing a gap year if you'll be doing an elective? I know you'll learn key skills but it's also delaying a very long course (up to 6 years studying) and you would still have a chance to help abroad.

    @adsyrah - I'll be doing 5 year - 6 year undergraduate.
    All UK universities do electives, though the length and the time in the course at which you do it varies a little.

    However, what you do on elective and what you do on a gap year is very different. Electives are (I think) a maximum of 3 months, usually more like 6-8 weeks, and you are expected to spend most of that time working in some kind of medical environment. There is some opportunity for travel/adventures, but nowhere near as much freedom as you have in a whole year. You also don't really have the opportunity to get a paid job, which you do in a gap year.

    There's no rush to graduate, really, though I know that 25 (the age I graduated at) seems like a lifetime away when you're 17.
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    @fallenangel - do you mind me asking what you did in your gap year and why you think you're now ready.

    @zubby - good luck

    @helenia -thanks.
    If I went on a gap year I would like to go abroad for a year and volunteer for the 12 months (if I'm brave enough), meaning I won't be able to get a job. And with the economy as it is I wouldn't want to risk waiting for jobs for a whole year and find I've got nothing and wasted a year.

    ---
    What's the general consensus on gap years in general? Do you believe they're worth taking (for you, not universities)
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    On the open day Manchester said they like deferred entry.
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    Because I want to go abroad and volunteer, would it be better to just do this in the summer holidays, since it's cheaper and shorter (I'm worried if I went away for a year I wouldn't like it there); I wouldn't learn nearly as much about the culture and life, but I'd be able to learn some of those life experiences at uni.

    Is burn-out a common occurrence in medicine?

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