As I finished my first semester of medical school back in December 2015, I found myself wondering what I wanted to do during my first summer off. We’ve been told many times that this will be our last summer, so it’s important to make it count. I knew I didn’t want to spend my summer at home because I would be bored to death after one week. In fact, I wanted to stay busy yet have the flexibility to hang out with friends and family. So let’s take a look at the options.
- STUDY for USMLE Step 1. This will be the most fun option—said no one ever. In my case, there really is no need to start studying this early simply because I wouldn’t be able to retain anything I studied, and I don’t want to experience burnout so early in the game.
- RESEARCH. This was the route I chose. I wanted to be involved in something meaningful with the potential of having a publication. I worked with UMMC’s GME department for quality improvement in the patient discharge process along with receiving IHI certification. It looks great when applying for residency one day, and it’s a paying position. I truly loved my summer, and I wouldn’t change a thing—no regrets!
- WORK. If you don’t want to research and need some money to spend or pay off loans, find a job. Working part-time will give you the flexibility to take vacations and relax while making a bit of the green, which we all need as med students.
- RELAX. This is your last summer off—you deserve to spend this time the way you want meaning rest, travel, eat, drink, and be merry! Many of my friends took the summer off to get married and enjoy time as newlyweds, spend time with their spouses and children, go on medical mission trips to serve abroad, or just do absolutely nothing because our brains need detox time.
Even though I chose to research this summer, I made it a point to give myself plenty of time to relax as well. I used this time to recuperate, and I’m excited for what the rest of medical school has to offer!