Research Gap Year or Straight into Med

Recently, I’ve hit a cross-road. This is my dilemma/confusion. Should I apply for Medical School this year and potential enter next year September – so I’ll be starting medical school straight after I graduate with my first degree (completed in 3 years) OR should I apply for medical school next year, and have a whole year off to do a paid-research internship/job to help pay for medical school tuition and living expenses?

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Proverbs 3:5 ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart, AND lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths’      

Psalm 37:5 ‘Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass’

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”.

So here’s the deal. I would love to enter medical school straight off graduation, just because of that feeling of finally making it and not having to continuously doubt about the ‘will i get in, or not get in’ scenario. To know that I’ve finally arrived, and working towards something I am so deeply passionate about and as cliché as it might sound, something (medicine) I cannot imagine myself not doing – I  literally can’t think of anything else that would bring joy of knowing you have had a positive impact on someone’s life. To be a doctor is a privilege. You are given the opportunity to help those in dire need and provide care for the unfortunate. YES. I would love to enter straight in.

On the other hand, as a UK-resident, graduate-entry medicine is considered a post-graduate degree. Due to this complete funding from the government is not given and you are required to pay some fees. From my research; the grad-route is a four year course for students with an undergraduate degree in the experimental sciences (first degree requirement is subject to the school you apply to). The first of the four year course must be self-funded (* £3,465) with the rest of the tuition fee to be paid either by a tuition fee loan, bursary, or scholarship. For years 2-4, students from England and Wales are able to apply for NHS funding to help fund tuition fees – paying £3,465 first. The rest of the tuition fees can be paid through a tuition fees loan, NHS bursary (up to 4,491), NHS grant, and university bursary. So you’re basically covered for years 2-4. Maintenance loan for living costs can be applied for from years 1-4.

Summary – you have to self-fund the first year of graduate-entry medicine of (£3,465) and tuition fee loan can be applied for the remaining fee. A bursary or scholarship can aid in the remainder fee. For years 2-4, the NHS will pay the first £3,465 and remainder can be paid by a tuition fee loan (that you are not eligible to apply for), bursary, grant, etc.

Aside from the tuition fees (total £9,250 each year) there are living expenses to pay for. Yes, the NHS bursary, university bursary, grants, and maintenance loan can provide the helping hand, but as I would like to apply to a majority of London-based medical schools – living in London is pretty expensive. I am considering living outside London too. I guess if you think about it, the funding isn’t so bad only if you’re eligible for the bursaries, grants, loans – and you could always get a scholarship. But I feel like, taking the year out to work does not only provide the financial need but would help me to develop the work ethic and discipline I need for medicine. Additionally, taking a year out to potentially do research does make me more of a competitive applicant. Applying to grad-route entry is REALLY COMPETITIVE. The number of places range from 20-177, with the majority being in the 20 and 30s and you could imagine the number of applicants applying each year (i.e >200).

Medicine is demanding. And after reading numerous blogs of people’s medical experiences, and hearing from medical students – you don’t necessarily need to be crazy intelligent or a ‘genius’ but capable of reading VOLUMES of notes/lectures and keeping on top of things (correct me if I’m wrong) and that requires discipline.

Plus, taking a year out isn’t really a big deal. US citizens’ first degree is *4 years – UK is 3/4 years. Theoretically, I would be the same age entering med school as an American if I took a year out.

Plan A: Get into Medicine

Plan B: Gap year with research

It’s never a bad thing to look ahead and plan for the alternatives. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – so you don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

All I know is, I want God’s perfect will/plan to be executed in life. If I am  to enter med school straight off, or take a gap year then let it be so. He will take care of our needs If we put His kingdom first above all things. I know he will direct my path, because He is NOT a God of confusion. He is a faithful God. All I know is my case is in God’s hands – regardless the funding or competitive obstacles placed before me.

1 Thessalonians5:24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

Sources: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/studentservices/support/financialsupport/studentfunding/fundingforgemstudents.aspx

http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/fees-and-funding/oxford-support/funding-for-medical-students

Check out this site for more detail:

https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/i-am/considering-or-university/financial-support-university/financial-support-medical-and-dental

  • Make sure to do your research before APPLYING!

Stay blessed,

-D x

1 Thessalonians5:24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.