In your junior and senior years, you will be following one of two paths: the direct matriculation path or the gap year path. Many students applying to medical school take a gap year, as do students applying to physician assistant (PA) programs. The top five PA schools, based on the U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 rankings, all require 1000-2000 hours of hands-on patient care, and many students use their gap year to earn those hours. Medical school applicants' average age at matriculation is 24yrs (AMCAS), indicating that the trend toward taking one or more bridge years is becoming more common.
If you are direct matriculating and taking a content-based exam (MCAT, DAT, or PCAT), plan your classes carefully with our office to ensure that you have all the courses you need before you take your exam. If you are applying to medical school, it is recommended that you apply in June the year before you intend to matriculate, and you should begin the committee letter process now. If you are not matriculating directly, start planning when you will take your exam and what you will do during your gap year(s). Talk with Career and Leadership Development, your advisor, and the Office of Medical and Health Programs to plan a gap year that will enhance your skills and your application. The Association of American Medical Colleges has recommendations about making the most out of your gap/bridge year.
Whether you are direct matriculating or choosing a gap year, you will need to pay attention to exam dates, application deadlines and requirements, and recommendation letters. You should also explore the centralized application service for your field (see below). Recommendations are a very important piece of your application. Cultivating relationships is key to getting both a great education and great recommendations. Get to know your professors so that when it comes time to ask for recommendations, they know you well and can speak to your strengths. It is considerate to request recommendations at least one month in advance.
Centralized application services by field: