Every year, more and more pre-medical students take a gap year after finishing their undergraduate degrees. There are countless ways a gap year can strengthen medical school applications if it’s used right. From volunteering to a post-bacc degree to healthcare-related jobs, finding the right way to use the gap year is essential for medical school applicants.

Due to the global threat of coronavirus and local governments restricting indoor gatherings, Medical College Admission Tests (MCATs) everywhere are being canceled.

However, for students whose exams have been canceled and plans to matriculate to medical school in Fall 2020 are disrupted, there are still options to prepare for medical school.

Three Tips for Gap Year before Medical School

#1: Gain Real-World Medical Experience

#2: Help your Community and Volunteer

#3: Enroll in a Pre-Med Masters Program

Benefits of a Gap Year before Medical School

As of 2017, 62.6 percent of students entering MD programs took at least one gap year before medical school. The year can be used for students to reflect, relax, and reset or test the waters outside of medicine.

Most importantly, gap years give students an opportunity to strengthen their medical school applications, especially those with low GPAs and MCAT scores.

Ultimately, how students use their gap year should reflect their passion for the medical field to admission committees. Thus, every student can choose to demonstrate that passion in different ways. For students who use the gap year, they must find something that will help them stand out. Below we’ll address a few of the gap year options and whether they may be the right path for you.

#1: Gain Medical Experience

If your MCAT scores and science GPA are up to admission standards, medical experience and patient exposure can greatly improve your application. These jobs can range from working as an emergency medical technician, a medical scribe, or a medical assistant. Medical jobs are great for students who need more hours in the field to boost their application.

Arguably the best benefit is students can improve their application while also getting paid and saving before medical school. Even if students need to spend time improving their scores, a part-time job in the medical field will go a long way on your applications. These lessons learned in the field can provide far more value than time in a classroom.

#2: Help your Community and Volunteer

Volunteering in your community shows a commitment to a career in medicine and helping the people in your community. It helps show a student’s passion for the field. Most importantly, you’ll have experiences to write about in your applications that you couldn’t obtain any other way.

Medical school admissions often look for pre-med students that are volunteering 10-15 hours per month. More than the quantity of time spent is the dedication shown through your work. When choosing how to spend your volunteer hours, pursue something that will give you fulfillment and broaden your horizons.

One solution is to start your own project to provide immediate help within your community. With the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a massive rise in demand in personal protective equipment and medical supplies. Organizing a collection of PPE from other industries to donate to first responders is just one way you can use your volunteer time to help your community.

You’ll also find volunteer positions by contacting hospitals, clinics, labs, and research facilities directly, or talking to your academic advisor. There are also several medical volunteer abroad programs that can help to develop specialized skills while helping people in need.

#3: Enroll in a Pre-Med Post-Bacc Program

Getting into medical school isn’t easy, as more than half who apply every year will be rejected. Post-bacc programs offer a chance for students to improve their credentials, academic record, and show success in graduate science classes.

For students who spend their gap year in the MSMS program at PHSU St. Louis, it’s a year of strengthening credentials and getting experience to move toward a Doctor of Medicine program.

With the current uncertainty surrounding the exams, Ponce Health Sciences University St. Louis has waived the MCAT and GRE requirement for all MSMS program applicants for the time being.

The Master of Science in Medical Science (MSMS) at PHSU St. Louis is an ideal alternative route for students who will be unable to complete their medical school applications without the MCAT. The MSMS provides a new pathway for students to reach medical school and can provide sustainable value to your gap year.

Year One Medical School Experience

The one-year program enhances the credentials of our students for entry into MD programs and other health sciences pathways. The MSMS curriculum is broad-based and mirrors the first year of our LCME-accredited medical school program at PHSU’s School of Medicine.

With experience equal to early semesters in medical school and analytics that predict student USMLE Step 1 results, students can apply to medical school with confidence they’re prepared for the rigorous courses ahead.

The program is completed in just 11 months with courses in Anatomy, Medical Biochemistry, Physiology, Medical Ethics, Microbiology, and more.

Improve your Scores for Med School Applications

Over the last five years, nearly 80 percent of graduating MSMS students received admission into their preferred program and 65 percent of graduates gained admission into medical school. All of our MSMS students who have continued into MD programs have passed USMLE Board Step 1 exams, often outperforming peers.

For many students, earning a coveted spot in an MD program is difficult, but the MSMS improves the academic profile for medical school application with life science courses. After a year, our graduates leave with strengthened MD applications and opportunities they may not have had before.

Special Consideration for Med School

PHSU St. Louis is dedicated to helping students gain an inside track to medical school admission by linking students with top institutions.

The top 20 percent of our graduating MSMS classes will earn an interview for the MD program at PHSU. MSMS graduates who meet certain criteria also earn special consideration from partnered universities, such as A.T. Still University’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Get your Pre-Med Masters Degree

While many undergraduate students may not be able to meet GPA and MCAT requirements to enter medical school, we invest in students who show promise to succeed in the future. Our innovative dynamic classroom model and analytic approach to student development has proven to strengthen MD applications after graduation.

To learn more about how you can advance toward your future goals in healthcare with the MSMS, visit the PHSU St. Louis website. To enquire about the program, visit our contact page. Online applications for the MSMS and part-time online MSMS program are currently open.

The Master of Science in Medical Sciences (MSMS) at PHSU St. Louis is a rigorous and comprehensive pre-med master’s program that trains aspiring medical professionals to confidently step into their preferred career pathways in health sciences.

Graduates of the program become well-rounded candidates equipped to continue their education — such as medical school — or jump right into the workforce. These MS in Medical Sciences graduates have a plethora of options post-graduation.

Here, we’ll look deeper at the most common career pathways that MSMS graduates at PHSU St. Louis pursue.

#1: Medical Doctor

Candidates who go on to become medical doctors need to continue their education in a Doctor of Medicine (MD) program. Regardless of the medical school students apply to or get admission into, MSMS graduates get preference at Ponce Health Sciences University’s Medical School in Puerto Rico. This is the most common career pathway for MSMS graduates.

In fact, the top 20 percent of MSMS graduates earn an interview for PHSU’s Medical School program. Moreover, 75 percent of students who completed the first MSMS program obtained admission into medical school.

The salary for physicians and surgeons are among the highest-paid of all occupations with a median annual wage of greater than $208,000. Lastly, overall employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 7 percent by 2028.

#2: Dentistry

Dental school is a rigorous program that takes four years to complete, followed by specialties. A career in dentistry is among the most common paths that MSMS graduates go into.

This career pathway requires a doctoral degree and has a median annual pay rate of $159,200. The career pathway is on pace for a three percent growth between 2019 and 2029.

#3: Veterinary

The responsibility of veterinarians is to care for the health of animals, thus contributing to public health.

As of 2018, the median pay is $95,460 per year and the level of education required is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, as well as a state license. Job prospects for veterinarians look very good, as they are expected to grow 16 percent by 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

#4: Podiatry

Students at PHSU St. Louis may choose to focus on podiatry after graduating MSMS program. Podiatrists are also doctors.

However, candidates attend podiatric colleges rather than a traditional medical school. Providing medical and surgical care for people with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems, podiatrists must earn a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree and complete a 3-year residency program, and obtain a state license. The median annual wage for podiatrists is $126,240.

#5: Optometry

Becoming a professional optometrist takes four years of school to become a Doctor of Optometry, O.D. Students also have a one-year clinical residency for specialization that is optional.

Upon completing their education, optometrists diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. This is a great career path that has a median annual wage of $115,250. Additionally, jobs in optometry are projected to grow four percent in the next decade.

#6: Chiropractic

Candidates who choose this career path must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and a state license to practice. D.C. programs typically take four years to complete in addition to undergraduate education.

Chiropractors treat health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system with people across all age groups. The median annual salary for chiropractors is $70,340 and employment for chiropractors is projected to grow 7 percent by 2028.

#7: Pharmacy

In order to earn a Pharm.D., students must attend Pharmacy School, which takes four years of academic preparation in the professional program. Students may apply to Pharmacy School after earning a bachelor’s degree, but the MSMS program sets them up for success by giving them a jump start on health science-intense curriculum.

In addition to attending Pharmacy School, graduates of the professional program must also be licensed, which requires passing two exams. The annual salary for pharmacists is $128,090, a great career to get into as a culturally-competent healthcare provider.

#8: Pharmaceutical Industry

Pharmaceutical Science and Research

Pharmaceutical scientists and research experts are trained to discover, develop, test, and manufacture new medications. While most jobs in pharmaceutical science only require a master’s degree, individuals sometimes pursue a doctoral degree to qualify for advancement in research positions.

A pharmaceutical science job has an average salary of $88,790 and a projected job growth of 6 percent in the next decade. However, with experience and increasing responsibility, the salary can grow significantly.

Pharmaceutical Sales

Generally, pharmaceutical companies hire sales representatives who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. This is a good option for individuals who have a knack for networking and creating relationships with clients. According to previous surveys, the national median salary for a pharmaceutical sales representative is around $91,977, according to ZipRecruiter, not including bonuses.

#9: Education and Teaching

Pursuing a career in academia requires individuals to obtain a Master’s degree at a minimum. However, this will depend on the academic institution. Some universities allow MSMS graduates to teach undergraduate level STEM courses, whereas four-year universities typically require a doctoral degree.

A full-time position in academia has an annual salary of $79,540. Overall, employment for university instructors projects for 9 percent growth by 2029, but the majority of the growth will be on the part-time level.

#10: Research — Medical, Environmental, Forensic, or Public Health

Students may start a career in research after successfully completing the MSMS. However, a doctorate degree is necessary if students want to move onto an advanced research career path. The majority of researchers work in research firms, nonprofits, corporations, colleges and universities, or government agencies; and the median annual wage for a researcher is $57,700.

The MSMS: Helping Medical Students reach Career Pathways

Whether you want to become a medical doctor or enter the medical workforce after earning your master’s, the MSMS helps medical students take the next step toward their preferred career pathways.

With a science-based curriculum that mirrors the first year of medical school, PHSU St. Louis is training future medical professionals that will are at the forefront of culturally-competent care.

Want to learn more about the MSMS? Contact PHSU St. Louis, or apply to the MSMS today!

Anthony W. Robateau Colón was never at the top of his public high school or college classes in maths or sciences. When he began high school, he started to struggle with the most crucial classes for his dream career: becoming a doctor.

After his undergraduate program, he applied to medical school but was rejected. He tried again but got nothing in return. Then he found Ponce Health Sciences University’s Master of Science in Medical Science (MSMS) degree. After completing the program, he received an acceptance letter into medical school.

“I did the master’s degree and what I found was amazing,” Colón said. “I started from the bottom and now I got the chance to achieve so much and be able to look back from how I started. It really feels incredible.”

Creating a Future with the MSMS Program

Colón came from humble beginnings, raised by a mother who worked as a nurse in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. He visited the clinic with his mother. At that early age, he knew he wanted to follow in her footsteps.

When he started missing high marks in maths and sciences, he started to doubt if he could do that. Teachers would tell him he needed to achieve higher grades in his classes to advance toward medical school.

“In that moment, I lost faith in my dream,” Colón said. “That’s when I sat down and evaluated where I was standing and the path I had to cross to get to med school.”

A Gateway to Medical School

When Colón was turned down by medical schools because of his imperfect academic record, Ponce Health Sciences University reached out to him. PHSU offers the MSMS to pre-medical students to improve their chances of being accepted into an MD program or other professional health programs.

The program is designed to provide students with a health science-based one-year curriculum including comprehensive examination. The curriculum mirrors the academics of the first year of medical school to enhance the credential record of our students.

In addition, with PHSU St. Louis’s predictive analytics integrated into the MSMS, students can analyze their performance according to USMLE Systems and Disciplines against past MSMS students. This way, MSMS students can ensure they’re on track to reach their career goals after graduation.

After a year in the MSMS, Colón again applied for an MD program and received an acceptance letter. He soon graduated medical school and was placed in a residency in internal medicine at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Pathways to Med School at PHSU St. Louis

“I still can’t believe this,” Colón said. “Never in my life I would’ve imagined being in this position … But at the same, it feels good because I know that I achieved everything thanks to my efforts.”

Colón is just one of the hundreds of students Ponce Health Sciences University’s MSMS has helped to reach their healthcare education dreams. If you have a bachelor’s degree and are aiming to improve your credentials for medical school, you can apply for admission to PHSU’s MSMS program.