You’re in the home stretch! With the end of the semester just around the corner, you’re a few weeks away from enjoying some well-deserved time off. If you’re still wondering what you will do during your break, here are seven things to consider:
1. Make summer plans. Gaining valuable experiences and exposure to the field of medicine is important for showing admissions committees why this is the right career for you. It’s not too early to start researching and applying for summer positions or programs. One option is the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP), a free, six-week academic enrichment program held at 13 program sites across the country. The application for summer 2017 is open until March 1. You can search for more opportunities here.
2. Read for fun. You probably read a lot for your classes all semester, so break is a great time to read something just for you. And it doesn’t have to be related to medicine. But if you’re looking for book recommendations for aspiring physicians, check out our list. Look up other recommendations and share what you’re reading on social media with #premedreads.
3. Learn about the application process. If you’re applying to medical school in 2017, now is a good time to start thinking about your application timeline, personal statement, and letters of evaluation. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®) for information, resources, and tutorials specific to the application process. For a more comprehensive overview, we recommend The Official Guide to Medical School Admissions.
4. Reflect on why you’re pursuing medicine. One question that will be essential to answer when writing your personal statement and interviewing at medical schools is “why medicine?” It’s important to have an answer that’s specific and personal. If your answer is something general that could apply to many pre-meds (“I like to help people” or “I like science”), look closer at your experiences and the deeper reasons that keep you motivated to pursue this path. This will help differentiate you from the thousands of other applicants when it comes time to apply.
5. Make a MCAT study plan. If you’re taking your MCAT exam in January 2017, you’re probably already planning to study over your break. Even if you’re taking the exam later in the year, you can start making a study plan now. Here are some tips to get you started with developing your own plan based on your study habits, schedule, and learning style.
6. Volunteer. There are lots of opportunities to get involved in your community, especially around the holidays, such as volunteering at a food bank or sorting toy donations. Remember, you don’t just have to look for medically related opportunities for it to be to be valuable and meaningful experience. Here are some tips for finding volunteer experiences.
7. Relax and recharge. Feel like you need a break? Taking a step back and not doing anything pre-med related is okay, too. Sleep in, spend time with family and friends, catch up on a TV show, or whatever else is going to help you start the New Year and new semester strong and motivated. Learning how to find balance is an essential skill that will help you be successful now, in medical school, and as a future doctor.
No matter what you choose to do during your winter break, the AAMC wishes you happy holidays and a safe and healthy New Year!