Since there are so many unsuccessful applicants for medical school (around 60% don’t get a single offer), many choose to take a gap year, improve their application and apply for medical school again hoping to gain a place. Of course medical schools may like people taking gap years as it shows determination and that you don’t give up after failing just once. If you are forced on a gap year, don’t take it as a bad thing as it could actually be the best thing that happens to you even if you don’t see it now! In fact people have said that a gap year has been the best year of their life and is definitely worthwhile.
What you can do
There are a variety of things you can do on a gap year. You can:
1. Get a job to earn money - You could save up for university as it isn’t exactly cheap, or you could earn money for travelling!
2. Volunteer work – Anything is good really as long as you can learn something from it
3. More work experience – Can’t get too much insight into the world you want to go into
4. Travelling – A gap year is a great chance to go places you probably wouldn’t be able to go any other time!
Jobs: Looking for a job isn’t the easiest task in the world, so you should start looking early on for a better chance to get one. Ideally, apply 5/6 months before you would like to start work as paperwork, CRB checks etc can take up to two months! Then there is the issue of actually getting an interview and subsequently the job itself. Apply anywhere and everywhere you can for a job if you need to. Some people manage to get a job as a Health Care Assistant- HCA (also known as "Auxiliary nurses" or "Nursing Assistants") and have some insight into what it is like; others may be able to find other various “medical” jobs. This includes job titles such as "Clinical Support Worker" or a Therapy Assistant such as "Physiotherapist Assistant". However you don’t have to get a medical one! Any job is good!
Volunteer work: Maybe look into some long term volunteer work such as a few times a week at a local care home. This could be the next best thing to being unable to find a job if the money isn’t that important.
Work experience: This could be the same as volunteer work or a job really. Medical or not medical it doesn’t matter too much. But keep in mind, if you lacked work experience in your last medicine application this may be something you want to prioritise in getting! If possible, try getting hospital work experience as many medical students (who have sat in the interview panel) mention work experience within a hospital environment is seen as a favourable thing to have.
Travelling: If you can travel, great! It’s a fantastic chance to see the world from a different angle. You can go any where you want (subject to your funds of course). Some people go on a tour of the world and others just a few places around. Choose whatever you feel you will enjoy, but remember if you’re applying to medical school at the same time you may want to be around during the interview period.
Some people go travelling combined with work placements and such on their gap year through organisations. These can be fantastic but are not the cheapest of things to do.
A list of possible organisations:
Medical Projects - http://www.medicalprojects.co.uk
Global Volunteer Projects - http://www.globalvolunteerprojects.org/medicine/index.htm
Premed Projects - http://www.premedprojects.co.uk
Projects Abroad - http://www.projects-abroad.co.uk/projects/medicine-and-healthcare/
Lattitude Global Volunteering - http://www.lattitude.org.uk/master_template.aspx?PageID=1367&contentURL=3
Travellers Worldwide - http://www.travellersworldwide.com/care.htm
Project Trust - http://www.projecttrust.org.uk
i-to-i - http://www.i-to-i.com/volunteer/
Original Volunteers http://www.originalvolunteers.co.uk/?gclid=CMfult6esqYCFQse4QodWT4kZg
African Impact http://www.africanimpact.com/volunteer-projects/medical-work
-more people add to this list-
Remember a good gap year takes some planning! So decide what you want to do and then try to make it happen! Being organised here can help a lot. Also keep in mind, if you were rejected from receiving no offers from your four medical schools, see if they can give you some details as to why you were unsuccessful. This may give you a few pointers on what to do with your gap year to make it as worth-while as possible!