Health professions schools look very favorably on applicants who are older, wiser, more mature, and with more life experiences. So take the time to enjoy your four years at Duke and take advantage of the many opportunities that Duke offers. The median age of applicants accepted to Duke Medical School and similar schools is 24, indicating that large numbers of premedical students are applying after graduation. Currently 75 percent of Duke students applying to medical schools will take a gap year and this number is likely to rise in the future.
It will be easiest to take your required prehealth courses over your four years at Duke. You would then take the MCAT or other standardized exam at the end of your senior year, send in your applications to schools, and take a gap year to work, teach, do research, work in a health care or other community service position, or follow other interests while you go through the admissions evaluation.
Students with AP Credits
If you have entered Duke with many AP credits in math and science, you may be able to finish the required courses by the end of your junior year. In this case, it is possible for you to apply in the summer between your junior and senior years. If accepted, you would go directly into your health professions school after graduation. This scenario, however, is often not ideal. Squeezing prehealth courses into three years is difficult. Majoring in Biology or another science adds additional courses and creates demanding course loads. You will also need to find time to do clinical volunteering, shadowing, community service and research before applying. As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, you will be a more competitive applicant if you apply to schools at the end of your senior year, showing four years of rigorous coursework, in-depth exploration of your chosen health profession, and other extra-curricular accomplishments. Talk with your prehealth advisor about all of your possible options and consider that taking four years to complete requirements might give you many more opportunities for achievement.