Growing in the Gap
Updated: Jul 11
A Take On Utilizing A Gap Year
My plan to take a gap year came from both personal and financial reasons.
Written by: Jala Foster
College is a lot of work and it can be draining at times even though the end is ultimately rewarding. The most rewarding part about getting through college for me was the opportunities that would be available to me after graduating. I had been prepared for college-level classes and the workload as I was a graduate of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program in high school. Having taken rigorous courses for six years I was ready to take a break after college. Furthermore, I still wasn’t sure what the next step was for me post-graduation. My career path switched many times from a genetic counselor, physical therapist (PT) to ultimately either a physician assistant (PA) or nurse practitioner (NP). However, along the way, I have come to understand the importance of shadowing different professions to better envision a future career as a PA or NP.
At first, I felt bad for not going to grad school directly preceding undergrad, as many of my friends had job plans or were applying to different programs. I felt as though I had wasted four years in college. But a class I took fall semester of senior year, BIO 117- (Pre-Health Thrive-1 Considering Health Professions), helped me gain a new perspective that everyone’s journey is different. This weekly guest lecturer class included many different people of various health professions and ages (PA, NP, PT, Osteopathic Doctor, Speech Pathologist, Oncologist, etc.). A majority of these speakers achieved their current job status after changing career paths. Even more relatable, many of these people were in the same situation I was in after graduation. They too were not sure of what profession they wanted to pursue. All of the different career journeys highlighted how the timing to pursue a health professional degree varied drastically from person to person. It helped me to understand that it’s alright to be uncertain, as everything always works out in due time.
On the financial side, I got a few scholarships for my undergraduate education, but I still came out with debt from student loans. I didn’t want to feel too overburdened with debt while pursuing another degree. I felt that it would only hinder my ability to focus on school. Taking a gap year will allow me to make some money to save for graduate school while also gaining professional experience.
During this gap year, I plan to keep my current part-time job and get another part-time job as a medical scribe in order to acquire medical experience to prepare me for PA or NP school. I also believe that working in the medical environment will allow me to collaborate and learn from PAs/NPs to help me decide if this is the right path for me.
In sum, graduating from college is a huge accomplishment in itself, there is still near only one-third of the U.S. population that has a bachelor’s degree. Take time to think about your career options and always prioritize your mental health. There’s nothing wrong with changing career paths as you always learn something from each decision you make.
Bloom Into Womanhood thanks Jala for collaborating with us!
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Meet the Author: Jala Foster
Photo Courtesy of Jala Foster
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