What Do Medical Students Do With Their Summer Breaks?
Summer breaks are great, especially when you’re studying for a demanding degree in uni. Everyone looks forward to those 2 or 3 months of not having to go into class or study for tests and exams. However, whatever you choose to do with your summer break is key.
There is a diverse range of summer activities to choose from. You could choose to travel, do an overseas elective, work, do research or just do nothing. Whatever you decide to do, always keep the big picture in mind. Ask yourself questions like:
- How will my summer plans contribute to my short and long-term goals?
- Are there a few topics from last semester that completely went over my head?
- Are there a few weak areas I need to spend a few days brushing up on?
- How will my summer plans add value to me?
- How will my summer plans contribute to my professional development?
- How are my finances doing? Is summer a good opportunity for me to earn some extra cash?
- Do I need to get any external exams out of the way before the end of my summer break?
Here are a few ways to ensure you have a productive summer break:
Overseas electives are both fun and educative in the sense that you get to travel to a different country, explore, and at the same time improve your clinical knowledge and skills. You get to take a break from your usual environment, learn and reinforce existing knowledge, as well as upgrade your portfolio and your CV. No better combination to be honest.
A lot of universities offer summer research opportunities and some of them might actually pay you for your time. Research projects are excellent additions to your CV especially if you’re gunning for a competitive specialty program after graduation.
Summer jobs aren’t difficult to find especially as a student. It’s a good way to make extra cash to keep you going during the summer and when school is back on. Yes, the money is key, but as much as possible, try to choose a job that adds some sort of value to you.
It’s not unusual to not want to work or deal with anything remotely medical during your summer breaks. Uni days are already stressful enough and so if you get the opportunity to travel and explore other countries, go for it.
Signing up for courses that appeal to your creative side is another great way to spend your summer holidays. A few examples are sewing classes, cooking classes, beauty school, music classes and so much more. There are so many of them available.
Study for external exams
It might be necessary to spend all or a few weeks of your summer breaks studying for external exams, like the USMLE. If you’re on this boat, try to take a break before you start studying and after the exams, before uni starts. You could take a trip for a week or do a weekend getaway, it all depends on how much time you have to study.
Summer breaks are great but don’t spend all summer indoors, sleeping. Even if your student budget doesn’t allow a lot of traveling, get out there and soak up all the sun you can, daily. Read a few good books. Hang out with friends and family. Take long walks in the park. Go hiking. Just enjoy yourself, because you’ve worked hard and you deserve the break.
Dr. Wendy Evans-Uhegbu is a graduate of The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, with experience in Connected Health, Medical Technology, Clinical Research, Medical Education, and Web Design. She is a member of the Medics Abroad team with the role of Chief Communications Officer. She also runs a Medical Communications and Publishing business, and is the author of the newly published children’s book “The Things Around Me”.