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After taking a year off to do a masters program - I can safely say that I agree w/ @VanD. I matured through the process and developed my interests further. Interests and professional skills that will undoubtedly help me in med school this fall! Doesn't have to be a Masters, but seek experiences med/non-medical that genuinely interest you.

Imagine medical school didn't exist. What else interests you? Are you interested in global health? public health? social activism? economics/business? hard science and research? 

Here's an extreme example: Steve Jobs (late founder of apple) had a strong passion for computers, yet he perpetually pursued things that interested him... completely unrelated to his calling. He ended up taking courses such as calligraphy and typography. And look where we are today, computers have different fonts such as Serif, Times New Roman, Arial, etc all because someone with a passion for computers dared to pursue something else that interested him! 

Pursue your interests outside of medicine and remember when you become a med student and a physician you'll look back at these years as integral in developing your character and shaping you as a more experienced and unique individual that will surely contribute in your own way to the field. Best of luck :) 

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Hi there, I've been in a similar boat, maybe you can take something from my experience.

I took a year off without planning to before getting into medical school. In 4th year I applied to only one med school (knowing it likely wouldn't work out) and applied to a research MSc last minute (because everyone else was), and even more last minute decided I didn't want to pursue it (I have never once regreted not pursuing that research masters, in fact I'm grateful I didn't waste 2 years of my life on it). If research isn't your thing, that's cool, if it is, consider finding a clinical/lab/health systems etc. research position that interests you.

I spent that summer re-writing my MCAT, and actually found a local cafe job walking around town with some friends. Turns out, you learn a lot in "retail" in terms of problem solving, communication skills and management. I admit, at first, I was embarssed to have graduated from university to work "that kind of job." Which when I reflect now was good for me because 1.it was humbling 2.I learned what it means to only be able to support a family with a retail job (and that being able to understand and relate to this in terms of future patients is important) 3.I learned a bit about food insecurity, substance abuse, homelessness and compassion from my customers (which I wasn't expecting). If you have never had a customer service experience I recommend it.

I eventually found a full time job as a healthcare assistant (if this is something you'd like to consider, look up pharmacy assistant, chiropodist assistant, physiotherapist assistant, dietitian assistant, hospital clerk, retirement home server/assistant, scribe type jobs either in the community (I had better luck with community) or local hospitals) and spent the rest of the year working here. I also took several arts courses, took up an instrument, got a gym membership, hung out with friends/family and saved up to travel in the summer. I found I had more time to put forward a better med application, thoroughly think through course based MSc options/other career interests (and also put together great applications for those) and consider what I wanted from medicine. This is your year, you can choose to learn new skills, focus on your health and seriously reflect/think about what your goals are.

Lastly, I strongly felt that I had lost all direction in that year, which is possible given how easy it is to compare to former classmates' successes. Having friends with similar goals to me in a similar position AND having friend who were not in science helped keep me grounded. 

TLDR: you can turn your year off into an excellent learning experience. If you're interested in research, well... research. If you've yet to work retail, please do consider it. Otherwise, if you'd like a clinical job, clinic assistant positions are possible (pharm/physio/podiatrist/chiripodist/chiropractor assistant, scribe, clinic clerk, porter, etc). Consider learning new skills that you may not have had time for before (arts/languages/music/whatever) and spend quality time thinking about what you want in life/putting forward strong med/grad applications. I agree with the above posts, you gain some perspective and maturity. 

Best of luck OP


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Hey OP, 

I was in this position last year. I interviewed only at 1 school and was Wait Listed and didn't get in. Horrible feeling at the time but in hindsight it was perfect. I got to work part-time and make a lot of money, see friends, travel, and volunteer a lot more in areas I was passionate about. Of course these things are harder to do with covid right now but hopefully by New Year things will be getting better and you can really enjoy the year off. Its hard summoning the courage to just enjoy life, especially when you don't know if next year will be the year you get in but honestly you'll find that you'll learn something new, become an even better candidate and be more successful next time! Do what you enjoy doing for a year, try new things, and live life. You certainly won't regret it.

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