So in late June, I celebrated my (gasp!) 30th birthday, with some friends who aren’t in medical school (these are necessary if you ask me). While they are out in the real world, making a salary, buying houses, learning how to fold their laundry properly, I am 0 for 3. And I’m completely happy with the decision to be in school during this stage of my life. I know I certainly wasn’t mature enough to be in med school right out of college.
It seems that the “non-traditional” route to medical school is now the majority. At our school, less than 1/5 of incoming students came straight out of college. The majority took 2 years off (what I consider the new traditional), yet there is still a strong plurality of students who took 5 or more years off. Many have families, were in the military, have had 2 (or 3) careers. And this is encouraged! Even in careers that have longer residencies and fellowships, age doesn’t seem to be an inhibitory factor in medicine as much, at least not at the level of medical school. Most of my colleagues my age are planning on going into some of the longer specialties.
There are many reasons to take time off between college and medical school–get your grades up, you chose your major late, you aren’t ready to commit to the field, you want to try something else–and they are all valid. Admissions committees actually appreciate students who are thoughtful enough to consider taking time after college to weigh all their options. Because when they choose to come back to medicine, they can apply with confidence that there’s no other career they would be satisfied with.
What are your thoughts? Do you think schools should encourage, or even require, students to take time off between college and medical school?