Jenny J., M1
As someone who was heavily involved in extracurriculars in college, I was eager to start medical school and explore all of the opportunities available at WashU. There are a wide variety of student organizations here, from specialty interest groups to ones focused on advocacy and community engagement. Additionally, while it isn’t something that everyone is interested in, many WashU students are heavily involved in research. Students can also gain exposure to the business side of medicine through the Olin Grand Rounds and Sling Health, a student-run healthcare accelerator. I’ve found that the extracurriculars I am in have allowed me to explore my interests and learn from faculty members and peers. Everyone has been extremely welcoming and open to having me join projects even when I have little to no experience. I’ve also found that getting involved in extracurriculars has been a great way to meet people since there haven’t been many opportunities for us to connect with older medical students and faculty members due to COVID restrictions. Overall, my advice is to not overcommit but to be open to exploring new things. Who knows — you might find something that will become a lifelong passion!
Sangami P., M1
Looking back, I have been really happy about my decision to go to med school straight from undergrad and wouldn’t change it. I spent the summer after college not doing anything academic and that left me feeling recharged and motivated when starting med school. Academically, I felt really prepared and it was a fairly smooth transition to medical school, but I definitely changed my study style/habits from undergrad. With our small class size of about 100 students, I feel really supported compared to being one of almost 2,000 students in undergrad. I have made some really great friends at WUSM with people who came straight from undergrad and those who have taken gap years — it doesn’t really make a difference when you’re here. Going from living close to my college campus in an apartment full of my classmates to not seeing my classmates very often in med school (due to the pandemic) has definitely been an adjustment. My social life is definitely really different in medical school but maybe it’s time to grow up (LOL). Overall, coming to WashU straight from college has been a really positive experience and anyone thinking of doing the same should be excited and eager about the next chapter!
Zach N., M1
Gap years have become pretty common for future med students, and I think that’s for good reason! I spent a year after college working in an emergency department with some clinical research on the side, and the more time passes, the more grateful I am for the experience. Specifically, I’ve found that working in a hospital before starting school gives the material in medical a more concrete grounding, particularly as an M1, when most of the learning is classroom-based. I also think time away from coursework and exams has improved my concentration and made it easier for me to focus on efficiency when I’m working so I can have some time off in the evenings. I would say (very unscientifically) that probably half of my classmates took at least some time off before starting med school. If you’ve taken a gap year, I’m sure that no matter what you’ve done you’ll find it makes you a better doctor in some way!
Yuliya K., M1
In undergrad, I studied economics and took a bunch of humanities classes for fun. After graduating, I worked as a business analyst for a year before deciding that I wanted to go ahead and take my science pre-reqs, take the MCAT, and apply to med school. My science course load was spread out so that I could fit the classes in with work. I ended up taking three gap years. When coming to WashU, I was nervous — it had been years since I was in school full time, plus there’s so much science that I’ve never seen before (anatomy, microbiology, etc). However, so far I’ve found that WashU does a good job at easing us into the workload and the expectations of what we need to know. Sometimes lectures are fast (I mean, it is med school) but the professors are great about responding to questions and there’s a plethora of outside study materials. In fact, I think that’s actually been the biggest challenge — figuring out what resources I want to use and what study routine works for me. However, I know that my friends and classmates are going through the same adjustment as I am, and it has been a huge relief to know that I am not alone.