I have some studies (below), but was wondering if anyone knows of any that I'm missing.

Studies I've already read:

2020 study: “In multivariate analysis, gap years were independently associated with lower levels of burnout (p = 0.041). Further, burnout decreased in a stepwise fashion with students who took 0 (p = 0.350), 1 (p = 0.192), and 2+ (p = 0.048) gap years.” “Students taking gap years exhibited significantly lower levels of burnout than those who did not.” The average matriculating medical student age is 24 years old. ⅔ of all students take a gap year. Less “emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment” at p=0.002. Not taking a gap year has a much larger effect (3-4X) than being female, for example. “Gap years should no longer be viewed as undesirable compared to direct entry into medical school. Taking time off to explore other opportunities and have life experiences should be encouraged, as it can play a role in reducing burnout.”

2015 study: “This study reports the views of… medical students from 6 Universities… obtained from an anonymous questionnaire. Nearly all who had taken a gap year (77/79) would advise current school leavers to take one” and “48/105 who had not (p <0.0001).” So about 70% of med students advise to take a gap year. Nearly all gap year students “thought a gap year helped students become more mature (78/79).” Nearly all “gap year students were significantly more likely to consider that a gap year made it easier for them to make friends (70/79).” There was no support among either group that a gap year makes it “difficult to settle into work at University.” “This study shows overwhelming support for deferring entry to medical school and taking a gap year from those students who took one, and nearly half of those students who did not. Medical school entrance committees should reconsider their advice to students who wish to defer entry in order to take a "gap year."” Half of non-gap year students regret their decision not to take a gap year and “wished that they had taken a gap year.”

“The percentage [of people taking gap years] is even higher [than average] for undergrads at high-powered research institutions such as Johns Hopkins [and other selective/research] medical schools.”

2021 study: “According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), more than half of matriculated students now have taken time off between their undergraduate studies and medical school.” “>65% of matriculating medical students indicated a gap of at least 1 year between college graduation and matriculation into medical school in the 2019 AAMC Matriculating Student Questionnaire.” “Across virtually all responses, one of the primary things students spoke about was the connection between their gap-year experiences and a greater sense of adaptability in medical school. One after the other, students consistently cred-ited work-life experiences from their gap years for their enhanced ability to withstand change and failures.” “The consensus among students was that most of the bene-fits of their gap year(s) manifested as other skills, competen-cies, and virtues, including patient interface skills, greater maturity, empathy, humility, and patience. Virtually all students spoke to all of these qualities.” “We conclude that gap year experiences, in general, provide significant benefits to students and their medical schools.”

2022: “A total of 176 of 486 residents (36.2%) completed the study. There was no significant association between Emotional Intelligence (EI) level and age, gender, type of medical degree, having an advanced degree, or being in a specific specialty. We found that residents who took time off before matriculating into medical school had higher overall EI scores than those who did not take time off (p = 0.02). Similarly, those who took time off before medical school scored higher in interpersonal skills (p = 0.04), empathy (p = 0.03), decision-making (p = 0.02), and impulse control (p = 0.03).” Again, there is more emotional intelligence gained by taking a gap year compared to being female, to put it into perspective. “Residents who had taken time off before matriculating in medical school had higher overall EI scores and higher scores in the EI components of interpersonal skill, empathy, decision-making, and impulse control.” Also confirms a majority of students take a gap year. They conclude with: “Residency program directors may consider interviewing or ranking an applicant more highly if the applicant has taken a gap year before starting medical school.”

A 2020 study: Their sample of gap year students got into medical school twice as much as the average applicant. “​​Completing a gap year between college and medical school… can benefit both the learner and the program.”

1 Answer 1


I have no data, but the Dean of Admissions of our med school was a colleague of mine, and I asked him about a gap year a year or two after our preprofessional advisors started thinking of them as standard.

Basically, he told me that once in Med School, you can really tell the difference between those who took a gap year and those who didn't. He said that the three top things they look for in an applicant are maturity, maturity, and maturity. Toward that end, I suggest that your odds of admission are much better if you can show that the gap year was used effectively to help develop maturity than if you sit and play video games for a year.

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