Gap Year Info and Opportunities
AED General Body Meeting #2
November 10, 2011
General Information
• Majority of applicants take gap year(s) now
• Many schools like non-traditional applicants
• Planned or unplanned (aka didn’t get in)
– 42,742 total applicants in US
• about 12,000 of those are re-applicants
• Just make sure to do something productive during gap
Do something that you’ve always wanted to do
More breathing room for academics
Opportunity to have a life (travel, pursue interests)
Recharge and recover from feeling burnt out
Make money, make money, money, money!
Address weaknesses in your application
Improve GPA (senior grades count)
More life experience
Might feel more ready for med school
• Student loans may need to start being repaid
• MCAT scores might expire
– Usually in two or three years, depends on school
• “Real world” concerns (income, health insurance)
• Some think it’s hard to start studying again after a
prolonged break, lose momentum
• Might be older than peers in class
Some Opportunities to Consider…
Teach for America
Peace Corps
International fellowships
Non-profits – domestic and abroad
Research (USC, NIH)
Hospital scribes
Master’s, Progressive Degree Programs
Brief Overview of a Few Programs
• WorldTeach
– teach in developing countries
– Year long, semester, or just summer
• Peace Corp
– programs focus on education, youth and community development,
health, business and information and communications technology,
agriculture, and environment
– 27 month commitment
• Research
• Hospital Scribes
• Teach in low-income communities – a
challenging environment – to help close the
“achievement gap”
• 2 year commitment with salary & benefits
• Selective: 12-14% acceptance rate
5 deadlines:
August 19, 2011
September 16, 2011
October 26, 2011
January 6, 2012
February 10, 2012
1. Online app - letter of
(1b. Phone interview)
2. Online activities
3. Submit official
transcripts, grades, 2
letters of recc
4. Final Interview
5. 2 weeks to commit
• time-intensive but “exploratory”
• you have the opportunity to preference
regions, subjects, and student ages
• evaluators look for 7 qualities:
demonstrated past leadership, perseverance,
critical thinking skills, organization, respect for
diversity, great interpersonal & leadership skills,
understanding and passionate about TfA’s mission
• local support & mild stalking
• This is a challenging path to take – emotionally and physically. You
will probably cry. You may fail for the time in your life. You might quit. It
is not something to take on because you’re not sure what else to
• You will undoubtedly learn priceless skill sets – how to persevere,
interact with diverse populations, work with people very different from
you. Invaluable skills for a physician.
• Is it for you? Does it fit with your past experiences and current skills?
Does it mesh with your narrative of why you are pursuing medicine?
Ultimately a personal choice.
• There is a ton of press about Teach for America, both positive and
negative. There are also many SC alumni who pursue it. Be sure to do
your own research!
other options
• work towards any number of causes, from public education to the
environment to healthcare, disaster relief with the Red Cross, etc
• often 1 year commitments
• examples of health-related jobs in California
• Coaches for a Healthy California 2011-2012 (quarter-time) – work with kids in
underserved neighborhoods, develop leadership skills and have fun while
introducing and promoting sports
• California Safe Corps - Los Angeles – join statewide team to increase disaster
preparedness in California’s communities; coordinate with education programs,
work with Red Cross, provide disaster relief
• FIRST 5 Nutrition & Fitness Advocate - help parents and caregivers increase
their nutrition and fitness knowledge
• AmeriCorps VISTA – fight poverty (1 year); AmeriCorps NCCC –
strengthen communities (10 months); State & National Programs
International Fellowships
• Interested in going abroad during time off
• Many different types:
– Academic – earning a graduate degree, exchange programs
– Research -- conduct your own project
– Service -- teaching English, cultural exchange
• Most pay for room & board, tuition (if applicable), living
• Many are very prestigious, very competitive
– Can strengthen application
• Some apply on your own, some through USC
– Office of Academic and International Fellowships
• Two different fellowships:
– Research -- conduct your own project
• Need to conduct research through professor and his/her affiliated institution
– English Teaching-Assistantship
• Provides living stipend, other benefits
• Must apply through USC – USC deadline in mid-Sep, campus
interview at beginning of Oct, final deadline in mid-Oct 
National screening in Nov/Dec  Host country review
• Personal Statement, Statement of Grant Purpose,
3 Letters of Recommendations, Transcripts,
Language Evaluation
• Some things to think about…
– Think about and decide if you want to apply early
 applications are due at the beginning of senior year
– Need to have specific (and convincing) ties to country
– Need to have appropriate skill set and concrete experiences
– Language proficiency is required for some countries, others have a
language intensive program before actual program
– Can only apply for one program in one country
– A lot of support from OAIF – worksheets, workshops, meetings
– Long selection process
Working in Non-Profits
• Pros
– Make a meaningful difference
– Hands-on experience in that
– Exposure to the world outside
of academia
– Gain life experience
– Salary + benefits
• Cons
– Have to apply just like
applying to a “normal” job
– Very challenging environment
– Can’t always accomplish what
you hope to accomplish
– Not for everyone
• Many are 9-5 job, 40+ hours a week
• “Real world” work experience
• See if you want to continue working in this sector
Non-Profits Abroad
• Global Brigades, Liz Sophy
Master’s Programs
Letters of Recommendation
Research, Thesis, Publications
Age/ Life Experience
Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
Lots of work (Thesis, Publications)
Funding A Graduate Education
 Can be more than one year
USC Master’s Programs
Public Health (MPH)
Health Administration (MA)
Executive Master of Health Adminsitration (EMHA)
Craniofacial Biology (MS)
Biomedical Engineering (MS)
Gerontology (MA)
Biology (MS)
Neuroscience (MS)
Kinesiology (MA, MS)
Human Behavior (MS)
Psychology (MA)
Molecular Epidemiology (MS)
Biostatistics (MS)
Master’s in Public Health
#1 Johns Hopkins University (49.8%)
#2 University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill (40.5% )
#3 Harvard University (36.6%)
#4 University of Michigan--Ann Arbor (61.0%)
#5 Columbia University (60.7%)
#6 Emory University (51.4%)
#6 University of Washington (33.9%)
#8 University of California—Berkeley (39.4%)
#8 University of Minnesota--Twin Cities
#10 University of California--Los Angeles (41.3%)
Global Medicine (M.S.)
• A 1-year (32 units) program offered
through the Keck School of Medicine
– Also offered as a progressive degree
• Originally designed to help prospective
professional school applicants become more
• Science and Management Tracks depending
on interests
• Core Requirements
– Core Principles I and II (taken
with first year med students)
– Concepts related to global
health—critical issues,
epidemiology, etc.
• Electives
Tropical Medicine
Cultural Competence
Infectious Disease
Maternal and Child Health
USC Progressive Degree Programs
• Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree conferred
• Requires a good amount of planning and foresight
For example, MA in Psychological Sciences requires:
• 4 courses in PSYC 500 or 600 levels
• 1 semester of independent research credits (2 units)
• 2 semesters of Master’s Thesis credit (2 units each
semester of last year)
• Defend Master’s Thesis to committee