How Nontraditional Students Benefit Traditional Students

surgical specialties

In both high school and college, we get used to our peers being our age. Everyone turns the same age in the same range year after year. This makes it easy for friendships to form based on common interests and just being in the same stage of life. After college, however, most of our paths can diverge in a variety of different ways. Many of my non-preprofessional school friends got jobs and are even buying houses now. Others went straight into medical school, and still others waited a few years and lived out their lives before going back to school to study medicine. I think that is actually one of the most interesting and beautiful parts of medical school: the diversity in age and experience.

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Where To Start: A Non-Traditional Student Guide to Beginning Your Pursuit of Medicine


Whether you are changing careers or deciding late in your college career that medicine is your path, there is no doubt that making that decision can be anxiety-provoking and life changing. The truth is that medical students come in all forms and from every imaginable background—something I didn’t fully realize until beginning medical school myself. Regardless of where you are starting from, it can be a daunting task to ready yourself for the application process when you feel behind from the very beginning.

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Time Away From Formal Academics Can Enhance Application

take gap year

Whether or not a student should take a “gap year” (or two) often comes up during our conversations with applicants to medical school. Based on MedEdits’ experience working with students, we find that gap years are becoming increasingly common and that this extra time away from formal academics can enhance a student’s candidacy.

The Association of American Medical College’s (AAMC) 2016 Matriculating Student Questionnaire (MSQ) reports that the age of matriculants continues to rise, with 60.6% reporting that more than a year had passed since graduating from college, up from 57.9% in the 2014 MSQ. Matriculation data from colleges of osteopathic medicine show that the average age at matriculation in both 2015 and 2016 was 24.

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4 Strategies for Students Reapplying to Medical School

reapplying to medical school

In an ideal world, your first attempt at applying to medical school would also be your last. You would apply, receive several interview invitations, and at least one acceptance letter.
However, for many medical school hopefuls, applying to medical school does not result in an acceptance, and as the rejection letters pile up, it can be difficult to determine how to regroup for another application cycle. Ostensibly, you submitted the best application that you could, so how can you improve in the future? What was that original application lacking?

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How Nontraditional Students Can Best Position Themselves When Applying to Med School

A friend of mine studied film in college and subsequently found himself working as a cameraman for a documentary television program about the lives of EMTs and ER physicians. He experienced some very tense situations, and from his work decided that he wanted to do more than document how people received medical care—his desire was to participate in the action of helping others as a doctor.
Unfortunately, his film education was the furthest possible undergrad experience he could have from pre-med. He had no applicable science credits, no anatomy or physiology, and the only shadowing he had done of physicians had been with a camera in hand. In short, his path would be an arduous one, and he was soon going to turn 31.

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How Should I Transition From a Gap Year to Medical School?


With one or more years between undergraduate study and a medical school education becoming more common, many medical students must now figure out how to transition from their gap years back into the classroom. Some students worry that they will have forgotten how to study effectively, while others worry about transitioning from the relatively stress-free environment of a gap year to the rigor of medical school. If you are a newly-minted medical student trying to prepare for your first year of medical school after some time away from academic life, consider making your transition smoother with these tips:

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