The term "Gap Year" reflects a year (or years) taken after graduation but before beginning medical or other health professions school. The term gap year is misleading. While it does reflect a gap between graduation and matriculation, the year is actually used for important and significant activities and thus is a year of growth, discovery, experience and maturation. More than 75% of Duke students will take at least one gap year; nationally the average age of applicants entering medical school is around 24.
What are the advantages of taking a gap year?
- It's easier to work in prehealth required courses over a four year period
- The extra senior year of classes can show advanced classes, graduation with distinction, and a stronger and more robust GPA
- You have time for study abroad and robust summer experiences
- You can put more energy into special interests (e.g., athletics)
- You have more time for career exploration
- A gap year spent in research can be particularly useful if you are applying to MD-PhD programs
- A year of experience in economics, global health, finance, writing, teaching, etc. can give you background and skills that will be useful as a health care provider
- It gives you time to recharge between Duke and medical school
- It gives you time to be an independent employed adult, especially if you have always lived at home or in a dorm and have always been a student
What might you do during a gap year?
- Take classes
- Enroll in a graduate program of interest
- Enroll in a post-baccalaureate program
- Serve others (Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Teach for America, Indicorps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps)
- Work in healthcare as a scribe
- Become an EMT
- Gain leadership experience
- Work in a business
- Pursue an interest or dream (e.g. sports, writing, performing arts, entrepreneurship)
- Continue to engage in health care experience and service to others when possible
The HPA office will offer Gap Year programming during the year; watch the HPA Newsletter for announcements.
See the following for more information: