A Gap Year Reconsidered – Careers in Healthcare

My daughter just finished her junior year of High School and we have begun the daunting task of looking at colleges… She thinks she wants to be a nurse. An honorable profession, but also a profession that take a ton of education, graduate studies and ongoing continuing education throughout the length of her career.

I am so proud of Maddy. She has excellent grades. She is smart, savvy and mature beyond her years. And yet, even with all of her boxes checked, there are many unknowns that have become hurdles for our race to the college finish line.

Nursing is an excellent field and she can work anywhere. The healthcare industry is one of the few career fields that, despite economic hard times, is hiring at an alarming rate. Healthcare jobs, especially nursing jobs, are expected to grow faster than any other industry – roughly 22% or 3.2 million job by 2018.  Baby boomers are aging, Gen X is having kids… it’s inevitable.

Registered nurses are projected to generate 620,000 new jobs by 2018. This does not count the hundreds of thousands of jobs becoming available each year as older nurses retire. These facts are not secret however. Many, many students are entering the healthcare field. So how do you stay ahead of the pack and stand out among your peers? Nurses we spoke to all said the same thing: specialties, additional certifications, experience and relationships.

You are not going to get the majority of those in the first few years of a 4-year college. This took us to an unexpected possibility for our 3.9 grade point average student with plenty of colleges clamoring for her attention: a Gap Year.

Many parents we spoke to gasped when I said it. “A GAP YEAR? Oh dear!” You can understand their concern. While no one wants to drop a six-figure sum on a teenager who doesn’t want to be in school,  or doesn’t know exactly what they want; there are often nagging doubts over whether students who stop for a bit will ultimately get back on track.

That’s not the student I have. Mine is smart, works hard, has great grades and has a good grasp of what she wants to do. I am suggesting that a  Gap Year might work for even her.

Gap years are increasingly popular among students, no matter their grade point average or financial status. And it actually makes a lot of sense.

Consider this: According to the National Student Clearinghouse, more than 30% of college freshman dropout after their first year of college.  70% of Americans will study at a 4-year college, but less than 2/3’s of them will ever graduate with a degree.

Meanwhile, a high school graduate will earn an average of 84% less than a typical graduate from a 4-year college. Being able to balance school jobs and family is cited as one of the top reasons for dropping out.

It is especially true for prospective healthcare students.

For example, to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, professionals must have a bachelor’s degree and their registered nurse licensure, which involves taking and passing the National Council Licensure Examination.

Additionally, these professionals need a minimum of one year of experience in a critical care setting. They will then have to complete both a COA-accredited nurse anesthesia program and the national certification exam. And the trend is moving toward more education.

E-learning programs are cheaper ways to get certifications. They can be achieved online, at home, and some, like 4med’s job-role bundles, only take 4 weeks to complete. So, your student can earn a certification that can get you an entry level healthcare job, that then helps secure experience and relationships in a healthcare setting – a chip in their pocket for the future!

The financial savings and financial gains you make in that gap year, along with the certifications in specialized areas make you a much more attractive student and job seeker. Plus, many of the e-learning certifications qualify as college credits.

So what is a mom to do?

First and foremost, it is overwhelming. Your child is being bombarded with brochures, calls and shiny cities all over the country and beyond. They may not even be sure what they are planning to do yet. It’s all very normal.

As a parent, your job is to listen, guide and be informed. Listen to your student first, then research the best courses of action to get her there. Sometimes its not just the “BEST” or “most expensive “ school that will solve the puzzle.

You also need to think all the way through the college experience to the other end – THE end. What is your child’s end game? How can they make that a winning proposition without breaking the bank, taking unnecessary steps or worse, having to start all over again.

Taking time off between high school and college or sometime during the undergraduate years, as say, Malia Obama did last year before attending Harvard, has plenty of appeal for high school graduates who don’t know what they want out of college or seek to work, travel or volunteer on the sort of schedule that an academic calendar does not allow.

Families looking for gap years won’t find much. While some people make a deliberate choice to delay college to serve in the military or work or travel, others meander for a few years before deciding to try college after all.

A number of researchers have shown a connection between a deliberate choice to take some time off and getting better grades upon return to the classroom. Devin G. Pope, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, saw the link among people who had served at a Mormon mission. Bob Clagett, the former dean of admissions at Middlebury College, saw similar results when he helped inspire number-crunching among students there and at the University of North Carolina.

So just because it’s THE year they are supposed to hurry up and decide, is an uncertain decision really the best next step? Probably not.

Training for those gap year jobs is an excellent first step. Front and back office staff at healthcare facilities need to know basic safety, patient record security, HIPAA regulations and more. Having certifications that show you are trained in all of those areas will secure a gap year job that pays more and makes any resume look amazing.

4Med’s job bundles do exactly that for a low price and in 4 short weeks. Many of these certifications transfer into college credit! And as a thank you for reading my blog, you can grab an extra 25% off with code MMB25 at checkout right now! Here’s our full list of job bundle training programs: https://www.4medtrainingcatalog.com/online-store/Entry-Level-Job-Role-Bundles-c23714006

I would love to hear from you about your college journey or Gap Year questions. Email me at m.morris@4medapproved.com

For more information on college drop out statistics, gap year gains and more:


Megan Morris