Gap-Year and Short-Term Opportunities
Often people will take a year or two after graduation, prior to entering graduate or professional school (including medical school), or between Master’s and doctoral studies. The purpose can vary—It’s important to know yourself and your reasons behind a gap year. Most importantly, you should have defined goals for this period of time, and know what you want to gain from the experience. Do you want a break from school before pursuing more education? Are you not quite sure what you want to do yet, or what to concentrate on in graduate/professional school? Then working in the industry of your interest or a related field and exploring options, while gaining experience, may be your best path. Do you need to improve your grades or complete a pre-requisite for medical or professional school applications? Explore post-bac programs. Consider opportunities to travel, volunteer, or pursue a personal interest. Also, particularly in some STEM fields, getting a year of industry experience can be really helpful—if the company likes your work and sees the benefit of you furthering your academic experience, they may even pay for your graduate school.
Is a gap year (or years) right for you?
First of all, check out the process as it pertains to your situation. Make sure you’ve considered impacts on visas, insurance, course planning and financial aid. If you’re considering taking time during your Duke career, the Time Away office can help answer your questions about a leave, support you both going and coming, as well as provide support during your leave.
Healthcare Related Opportunities
There are a multitude of opportunities available to you (and really, you can do whatever you want). Actively explore and search for the right one for you.
Duke Health Professions Advising works closely with Duke students and alumni who aspire to careers in the health professions.
MedServe is a two-year service-learning fellowship for recent graduates interested in health careers, especially pre-med and pre-PA students. MedServe places future physicians in “rock star” primary care clinics across rural and other medically underserved communities in North Carolina. As Fellows, students work in both a clinical role (e.g. as a medical assistant) and community role (e.g. as a health coach).
American Public Health Association is the oldest, largest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world and has been working to improve public health since 1872. A variety of internships for undergrad and grad students are available.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a variety of fellowship and internship opportunities for individuals who have, or will soon have a college degree. These programs can help jump-start a career in protecting the public’s health.
Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities supports various fellowships and training opportunities for qualified students at all levels of their education. Many of the opportunities involve working with the Federal Government or the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Dept of Health and Human Services Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is a competitive, two-year, paid, federal internship within HHS. The program provides interns with a unique opportunity to develop enhanced leadership skills in one of the largest federal agencies in the nation. HHS is looking for talented and highly-motivated individuals with a commitment to public service. The program provides an excellent opportunity for participants to begin a professional career in HHS.
Global Health Corps mobilizes a diverse community of leaders to build the movement for global health equity.
Gain more Clinical Experience
The following positions are attainable after your bachelor’s degree and can give you good insight into medical practice and the field.
- Medical Scribe
- EMT (does take prior training, so potentially start while in school)
- Medical Assistant
- Research Assistant
Do Something Creative
exploring our home through the liberal arts and scientific inquiry, hands-on work and sustainable harvest, community events, hiking and paddling, and honoring Tlingit culture and values.
Explore and Serve
Fellowships, both academic and working, are opportunities available to those who have completed an undergraduate degree by the time the program begins. Professional fellowships are competitive in nature, can be located anywhere in the world, and serve as a fantastic launching pad for careers in ANY field and/or admissions into graduate and professional school.
Duke Fellowship Programs & Departments
Keep the following in mind as you consider a gap year
- Have a solid, defined plan for your gap year
- Identify skills you wish to build during this time
- Determine how will you support yourself
- What are your goals and motivations
- Do you have the motivation needed to get back to academics after a year or more away