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Chronicles of Med Student: A Summer to Remember

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet some of our incoming first years at a meet and greet event. They came in with wide eyes and big smiles, just waiting to sink their teeth into medical school. Their curiosity always got the best of them, and my classmates and myself were bombarded with questions like “What’s it like?” and “Do you have a life?”. I remember feeling that way one short year ago (and yes, even though our school year is a stretch of eleven months, it does feel short). One of the questions that they should have asked but didn’t is what they should do this summer.

The summer before medical school starts is quite special: it’s one of two times in your academic career where you are completely devoid of responsibility and serves as a transition period (the other being the summer after high school graduation). No one expects you to be particularly productive and that is a one way ticket to do whatever you want! I know there can be a lot of pressure on incoming first years to get a jump on studying for their first year—or even for Step 1 of the boards. While it may seem tempting to finally start learning about things you’ve been dreaming about for years, I would strongly advise against this. There’s too much of this in the very near future so right now is the time to enjoy the life that will slowly take a backseat as the years go on. I chose to go on a trip with my friends, and I can honestly say it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. It was quite literally a breath of fresh air. This time of of having no responsibilities and not being held accountable for much is short, so I encourage everyone to seize the opportunity to just do something they’ve been wanting to do for a while! This is one of the only times in my life that I’ve allowed myself to “do” before I “think”. As pre-meds, we are used to having our lives mapped out and every second accounted for. Everything we do is carefully calculated and rarely, if ever, do we allow ourselves this level of spontaneity in fear of blowing our chances at the career we eventually want. This summer is the exception: do whatever your heart desires.
What if you don’t want to take a trip or have financial constraints? There’s something for everyone! You can work somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. I know a lot of national parks hire college students for the summers to give tours or help out in their parks. If I had my way, I would’ve gotten a temporary job at a national park in Hawaii. I’ve never been there, so it would’ve been the summer job of a lifetime. I know of a few people who enrolled in gourmet culinary boot camp or a fashion designing course. Taking the time to indulge in your passions may seem like the biggest waste of time because you’d rather be starting medical school already, but trust me when I say that no one will regret enjoying themselves. I wish every day that I could be a part of my college dance team again or bake that 3 layer rainbow cake on Pinterest. We as pre-meds and medical students don’t have the same luxuries as our peers who start their careers after undergrad. I see pictures of my non-medical school friends traveling the world or taking music lessons or just hanging out with friends in their ample free time and while I am happy for them, I do think about all of the time I spend in school and that I won’t necessarily have the same experiences in my twenties that they will. That’s why it’s so important to seize every opportunity to indulge and why I encourage every incoming medical student to make this a summer to remember!

A
Adelle is a 4th year medical student who loves to hike, bake chocolate chip cookies, and doodle on the corners of papers.