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Postbacc Programs/GAP Year

What is a Post-Baccalaureate program? 

A Post-Baccalaureate program is often entered into after someone has completed an undergraduate degree and is looking to prepare for medical schools. It can strengthen an application in various ways. In a Postbacc program the applicant can address needs such as academic enhancement, career change, MCAT prep, and/or support of underrepresented students. Seven benefits of a Post-Bacc program listed by the AAMC are: extended access to advisors; medical school linkage programs; built-in volunteer opportunities; exclusive networking and programming; flexible structure and scheduling; accelerated coursework; and MCAT preparation. You can see more information here.

There is a variety of programs available at different costs, locations, and with different outcome objectives. See the AAMC Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Programs database to find programs available.  

To learn more about Post-Baccalaureate studies, and if you should participate in one, visit the AAMC's Post Baccalaureate Programs page and our Student Resources section.

What is a GAP year? 

AAMC says, "A 'gap year' is the period of time between the end of your undergraduate education and the start of medical school. In fact, a gap year might be a year or more, depending on each person’s particular circumstances."

In Admissions Unveiled: What You Need to Know, the AAMC provides some information about what admissions committeees think about gap years:

Tanisha Price-Johnson: Gap years are considered an opportunity to deepen emotional maturity and prepare for the rigors of medical school. Of course, this is dependent upon what an applicant does during the gap year. Academically or medically-related experiences can help strengthen an applicant’s mindset and develop skills where they may be deficient. On the other hand, gap years may also provide an applicant the opportunity to follow their passions before committing to medical school — another way to accomplish something fun while also eliminating potential distractions in medical school. 

Jerry Yutrzenka: Gap years are seemingly becoming more prominent for applicants and they can be very useful in helping the applicant better understand and prepare for their future career. This time away can be a much-needed breather for the applicant, can be a time of introspection, and can possibly provide the applicant with some “real-life” perspectives which may serve to enhance the applicant’s maturity. The applicant should expect to articulate what they did during the gap year and explain how it helped inform them about themselves and as a future physician.

Joy Dorscher: The committee looks very favorably on students who decide to take a year to explore other interests and to broaden their own experiences in the medical field. But it is important for the applicant to be deliberate about how they spend their time. That year can go by very quickly and you want to make sure that you have done all that you wanted to do.

Articles and Publications:

Making the Most of Your Gap Year

What to do during a gap year(s)

Review on the Impact of Gap Years on Career Development