Hello Everyone,

Just a bit of a background: I had to delay my MCAT until Sept 2017 because I didn’t have time this semester to fully dedicate myself to MCAT prep. I do have good grades, leadership, clinical, and volunteering experiences, so my MCAT is the only thing that delayed me this cycle. I plan on applying nexy June 2018 now.

As a result, I will be applying to medical school my senior year and will have one year off before I hopefully start medical school. My plan for this gap year was to either do an MPH (I am very interested in healthcare policy that addresses EMS and ER services) or work full time with my local ambulance service as an EMT (I am already a trained EMT for 3 years now with standby experience, but want to work for an ALS ambulance service because I could really learn a lot about health disparities in my community). Since I would be happy doing either, do you have any advice on which of these two routes I should follow that would look best for medical school? I also have a plan to do both as well:


MPH Program: University of Arizona Online MPH in Health Services Administration - This is a program that allows students to do one course at a time every 7.5 weeks over a course of 2-6 years depending on the student.

This MPH program is designed for working professionals so while I do this, I could still work for my ambulance service and gain that experience there. This MPH focus will allow me to apply what I learn to my experiences with my EMS service and its administration. I would do as much of my MPH as I can during Summer 2018-Summer 2019, and hopefully I get into medical school in Spring 2019-where I will continue my MPH at a slower pace during the first two years. Another note: maybe my final MPH practicum project can have something to do with my EMS job and my experiences there if I get to work with their administration.

Do you think there would be any issues finishing my MPH online concurrently while in MS1 if I get accepted to medical school? Will they look negatively on this as I apply in June 2018?

I am a long term planner so which of these experiences would also look the best for residency/help me become a better doctor? I
am thinking about pursuing emergency medicine or trauma surgery in the future.

Sorry for the long post, but I would greatly appreciate advise from any healthcare professionals (full disclosure: I did post this on SDN already minus a few extra questions, but I was hoping to get replies from those who are in medical school or are physicians)!



I wouldn’t plan to do anything that would continue into medical school, especially if it was a scheduled program. Adapting to medical school is pretty rough, and having something on top of that would be pretty brutal. If you could postpone classes until the summer between first and second year, you may be able to do some of the MPH at the sacrifice of vacation/research/board prep. If you REALLY want an MPH then one option is to apply to schools that have joint programs or allow for a leave of absence to complete a one year program.

An MPH really won’t prepare you at all for medical school but may serve you in future endeavors. It may help you with interviews but that would totally depend on the school/specific interviewer.

You should do whatever interests you most during your gap year. It makes for better conversation if you can talk to something you enjoy. Keep in mind that it may be one of the last opportunities you can fully dedicate to something that isn’t medicine if you have other interests.

For residency stuff, a huge bulk of what they look at is performance and stuff during medical school. At your stage, I don’t think you necessarily need to be planning THAT far in advance. Get into school first, find out what you really want to do for the rest of your life, then focus your efforts in medical school (i.e. Research, volunteering, grades).