Medical School and Gap Year Opportunities

“Physicians support and manage the health care of people of all ages. They take medical histories, perform physical examinations, conduct diagnostic tests, recommend and provide treatment, conduct research, and advise patients on their overall health and well-being. While there are many different types of physicians, they can usually be divided into three broad categories:

  • Primary care physicians are the doctors patients usually visit most frequently. They treat a wide range of illnesses and regularly provide preventive care, and they also enjoy long-term relationships with their patients. Pediatricians, family practitioners and general internists are primary care physicians.
  • Surgeons perform operations to treat diseases and repair injuries.
  • Specialists have expertise related to specific diseases as well as body parts, organs, and systems. Cardiologists, oncologists, neurologists, and ophthalmologists are examples of specialists. The Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) Careers in Medicine website contains information about 160+ specialties in medicine.

Read more about choosing a medical career, including deciding on a career in medicine, education, lifestyle, and salary on the AAMC website.

Information Gathering

Begin your pre-med research with Georgetown’s pre-health studies website, which offers a lot of advice online and in workshops on how to prepare. Also, learn about the Pre-Health Recommendation Committee and the Early Assurance Program (EAP) at Georgetown School of Medicine. In addition, the AAMC provides advice on all topics, including preparing for the MCAT, what to expect in medical school, getting experience, and the Medical Minority Applicant Registry.In short, you will want to explore Georgetown’s pre-health studies website, the Pre-Health Canvas course and the AAMC website in depth.

There are numerous professional associations representing the various specialties in the medical field. If you are interested in a particular specialty, go to the association’s website to learn what is important to those working in this specialty and stay abreast of the news and trends within this field.

Last, be sure to read trade magazines, newsletters, and popular websites to keep informed on the latest in science and medicine. Places to start include MedicalNewsToday, ScienceDaily, MedPageToday, and AMA Press Releases.

Select Resources

Gaining Experience and Making Connections

Gaining experience can take many forms, from joining clubs on campus to volunteering to gaining research and clinical experience. It is recommended to gain a wide variety of experience to share on your application, and yet, be careful to balance your academics with these activities.

  • Register on Handshake to search and apply for healthcare-related internships and research opportunities.
  • The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) provides advice on ways to gain experience in the medical field before applying, including summer enrichment and pipeline programs.
  • For underrepresented college students, the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) is a free summer enrichment program focused on you, both academically and in career development, for a successful application.
  • Learn about how to gain research experience to help make you a competitive applicant for medical school. In addition to the advice offered in this article, keep in mind that clinical trials and studies may need research assistants. Visit any research university or review the NIH’s clinical trial website or NIH RePORTER to identify researchers who may need assistants in a research area of interest to you. Both databases allow you to search for NIH-funded research by variables such as location, study area and more. Once you find a study of interest, use the contact information to reach out and ask if they need assistance.
  • This spreadsheet has sites to explore summer research and enrichment opportunities as well as a list of summer experiences pre-med students have participated in the past.

Georgetown offers a number of opportunities for Hoyas to get involved. Joining a school club is an excellent way to learn more about the industry, develop your skills, and get hands-on experience. Some medical-related clubs and councils include the Pre-Dental Society, Pre-Medical Society and Georgetown University Minority Association of Pre-Health Students. Gain hands-on experience on campus with the Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS) or the Hypothermia/Hyperthermia Outreach team.

Give back to the DC and campus communities by volunteering with groups such as Project Sunshine, Caring for Children with Cancer, Oncology Patient Support, and St. Elizabeth’s Outreach. Travel outside of the U.S. with GlobeMed or in the DC area with Center for Social Justice Alternative breaks (such as Health & Society) and GU Students for Health and Medical Equity (GUSHME) to serve communities that lack adequate access to healthcare and more. For more student club information, visit Campus Groups.

Increase your research skills by joining a lab around campus. The Center for Research and Fellowships offers the Georgetown Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (GUROP). Take the opportunity to participate in research and get published in the peer-reviewed Georgetown University Journal of Health Sciences or present at the Undergraduate Research Conference.

Lastly, reach out to Georgetown alumni through Hoya Gateway and Georgetown’s alumni page on LinkedIn to speak with them about their career paths or ask to shadow them at work. The Cawley website provides helpful guidelines on networking and informational interviewing.

Gap or Bridge Year

You may take a year or two to strengthen your application with a post-baccalaureate premedical program or a year of working in a research, service, or health care setting. Enrolling in a post-baccalaureate program may offer you a chance to strengthen your transcript and knowledge base before you apply to medical school, and can be a good bridge between your undergraduate studies and medical school. Read seven benefits of post-bacc programs in this article. AAMC has a directory of post-baccalaureate programs.

If you are seeking short-term work experience during a gap year, Handshake has full-time positions and fellowship opportunities and this spreadsheet provides a list of typical gap year experiences to consider. Click on the tabs to identify opportunities in service, research, and more. You can also read about ideas for your gap year(s) in the pre-health Canvas course.

Be sure to visit with your pre-health advisor. If you are an undergraduate student interested in pursuing a career in the health field, please register as a designated pre-health student to gain access to valuable resources. You can sign up by completing this form or by sending an email to