Jeremy Altman is a third year medical student at the University of Vermont, Larner College of Medicine.
In the following blog post, Altman writes about developing a podcast series, in concert with Green Mountain Medicine, called “Mind the Gap,” that highlights stories of students who have taken a non-traditional path to medical education.
“Ever since I started at the Larner College of Medicine, I have met and worked with so many fascinating students who have taken non-traditional paths into medicine. I realized there are no wrong answers when choosing a path to medicine. The gap year(s) is effectively a blank canvas that will help shape your professional career, one way or another.”
When I was in college and thinking of applying to medical school, my pre-med advisor recommended I take a gap year because they felt I was not a competitive applicant. At first, I felt defeated after being told that I should retake the MCAT and needed to gain more significant experience after I graduated, in order to prove to medical schools that I was a worthy applicant. However, I was fortunate to have been hired as a clinical research coordinator at Brigham & Women’s Hospital (Boston, Mass.) to participate in pain management research through the Department of Anesthesiology. Looking back at those two years of research experience, I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity because I eventually set foot in medical school equipped with a new repertoire of skills and confidence from working there. It had enabled my ultimately successful application to med school.
A “Gap Year” is an Opportunity
From that moment on, I desperately wanted to convey to pre-med students that a gap year should not feel like a step back, but rather an important opportunity to explore one’s young adulthood, get their hands dirty in the medical field and build up their maturity, critical thinking, time management skills, and get more comfortable with communicating with healthcare providers and patients.
There are No Wrong Answers When Choosing a Path to Medicine
Ever since I started at the Larner College of Medicine in 2020, I have met and worked with so many fascinating students who have taken non-traditional paths into medicine. From speaking with peers who had switched careers completely to traveling the world, I continue to be amazed by what my fellow students have accomplished before transitioning into the world of formal medical education. I realized there are no wrong answers when choosing a path to medicine. The gap year(s) is effectively a blank canvas that will help shape your professional career, one way or another.
I wanted to direct the spotlight on these incredible people by recording a series of interviews presented as a podcast. My hope is to offer inspiration and insight for those who are thinking about applying to medical school, figuring out what to do for their gap years, or for the people that seek meaningful stories of adversity and self-reflection.
Without further ado, I invite listeners to sit back, relax, and of course, “Mind the Gap”.
Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/mind-the-gap-finding-your-path-to-medicine/id1668908775