A large majority of applicants (between 70 and 80 percent) are electing to take time between graduation and matriculation to health professional programs to strengthen their applications. Taking additional time can enhance your application through academic and experiential opportunities, give you the chance to recharge before entering a demanding program, allow you to save money, and enable you to get more from your professional program. Many future applicants are hesitant to take a gap year not because they think it’s a bad idea, but because they aren’t sure what they will do. Consider some of the following resources and ideas in planning for your future:
Ensuring that you are committed to your intended healthcare program requires first hand experiential preparation in areas related to your future profession. Having robust experiences in clinical, research, and community engagement settings demonstrates your readiness for a rigorous health professional program and confirms your desire to pursue a healthcare career. Thus, it is common for people to engage in additional experiential preparation after completion of an undergraduate degree in order to be a competitive applicant. Areas for additional experiential preparation and opportunities are listed below.
Being admitted to a professional healthcare program takes years of preparation and mastery of difficult science coursework. Thus, it is common for people to pursue additional education after completion of an undergraduate degree in order to be a competitive applicant. The two most common forms of additional education are either a Special Master’s program or a post-Baccalaureate program. Both are described in detail below.
Special Master’s Program
A special master’s degree is an effective form of additional education for many reasons. Upon completion of the program, students will earn an advanced degree. Having an advanced degree will help applicants stand out during the admissions process for a professional healthcare program. Furthermore, good grades (typically As and Bs) in graduate-level courses can enhance an applicant’s GPA and demonstrate a positive upward trend in academics. Finally, completion of a master’s program demonstrates to professional schools that an applicant can be successful in difficult advanced coursework, much like what they would experience in a terminal degree program.
Additionally, participating in a special master’s degree program at a university that also grants the terminal degree an applicant is seeking can potentially serve as a pathway to that program. For example, if an applicant ultimately wants to earn an MD or DO degree, attending a special master’s program at a university with a medical school may prove to be additionally beneficial.
You can also search from a database of special master’s programs designed for people going into health professions on the AAMC website HERE and AAOM website HERE. Some examples of Special Master’s Programs include:
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Master of Medical Science Degree (multiple campuses)
Midwestern University Master of Biomedical Sciences Program (multiple campuses)
Post-Baccalaureate (Post-Bacc) Programs
Post-Baccalaureate (Post-Bacc) programs are an excellent way for applicants to remediate pre-requisite coursework that they did not score high enough in (typically, students need at least a C for a pre-requisite course to be considered by a professional program). Post-Bacc programs also provide a space for people to complete pre-requisite courses that they may still need (this is especially helpful for career changers or people who decide to pursue medicine late in their undergraduate career). Northeastern University has a Post-Bacc PreMed Program in the College of Professional Studies. Click here for more information on the Northeastern Program.
Aside from the Northeastern Post-Bacc program, there are several other Post-Bacc programs across the country. Learn more about Postbaccalaureate Programs on the AAMC website HERE. You can also search from a database of Post-Bacc programs designed for people going into health professions on the AAMC website HERE and AAOM website HERE.
PlusOne programs allows current Northeastern students the opportunity to pursue both a bachelor’s and master’s degree successively in a condensed period of time.
Many PreMed and PreHealth students have academics interests that are related to their intended career path where obtaining a Master’s Degree before beginning their health professional program can benefit their future career aspirations.