Summer—the season of sun, swimming, relaxing, and traveling. For most people, summer can be the best season of the year and a time to decompress from the demands of normal life. However, most premedical students find themselves in a predicament with regards to summer—do they do something they enjoy or focus on an activity that will help their application to medical school? Depending on who you ask, you will likely get a different answer on how to spend your free time, but after years of advising premedical students, my greatest advice is to do both!
With another busy semester behind you, you might be using your summer to work or volunteer, prepare for the MCAT exam, or work on your medical school applications. But summer is also a good opportunity to catch your breath and practice a little self-care. Being a premed is stressful, but there are healthy habits you can start practicing now that will help you manage stress next semester, and later when you’re in medical school.
1. Cook at home. It’s tempting to save time by always buying meals on the go, but cooking for yourself can actually be a stress relieving activity. And it’s often the healthier choice. Plus, it will save you money! Try listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook while you cook, or turn it into a social activity by cooking with your roommate or significant other.
Welcome back! I’m so excited to start my second year (and write about it, of course), but first things first: my amazing summer experience! I went to South America for a few weeks to work at a women’s health clinic. It was an incredible experience. I don’t say that only because I’ve lived to tell the tale, but also because I got to experience a totally new culture and visit one of the seven wonders of the world. The fact that I got to work in a healthcare setting there expanded my communication skills as well as my patience. It can be challenging to work in conditions that are very different from those we see in clinics in the US: sometimes things as basic as lighting aren’t there and you just have to deal with it. This “roll with it” attitude is something I’ve struggled with in the past. Because we’re taught to do things in a very specific manner here in the States, it can be very hard to have to adjust on the spot. Dealing with folding tables for hospital beds and performing physical exams in dimly lit rooms has definitely taught me to work with what’s in front of me. I hope that lesson will last the rest of my career.
Whew! It’s been a long year and I am itching for a much-needed, well-deserved break. Thankfully, summer is here to save me. I can’t wait to talk about my summer plans and all the ways to spend the summer between first and second year (also sadly known as your last summer ever). I think it will be beneficial to recap what I’ve discovered this past year!
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.
Summer is a great time to get medically related experience, which can be an important piece of a medical school application. You can volunteer, shadow a doctor, work in a lab, or participate in a summer program that may include several of these experiences. Any type of medical experience is a great way to build your resume and to help you to decide if medicine or a health-related career is right for you.
Summertime on your mind? You’ve worked hard this semester and have earned some well-deserved time to sit back and slow down for a change. While summer is your time to relax and recharge, it’s also a great opportunity to start focusing on rounding out your medical school applications. So how do you do that? We’ve come up with 6 ways to help you make the most of your summer.
1. Volunteer: Volunteering in a healthcare facility or organization not only enhances your medical school application, it’s a chance to see if you enjoy working a medical setting. It’s also an opportunity to network with peers and possible mentors, take on increased responsibility and leadership roles over time, and build your resume. Learn how to find a volunteer opportunity.
Can’t decide how to spend your last ‘free’ summer before dental school? Read on!