Man, it’s good to be done with MS1.
Given the demands on time and attention that medical school places on students, summer break after first year is a glorious opportunity to pursue independent endeavors. Because the break is short (in my case, 9 weeks) and the last one for the foreseeable future, it’s important to plan well and early. Here are just a few of the things my fellow pre-MS2s and I are doing these next few weeks.
Research: The majority of students pursue independent research under guidance of a faculty mentor over summer break. Most schools sponsor research stipends to support medical students in this regard. The research done can be clinical, basic, health policy, or administrative in nature. Given the short time frame in which to pursue a research project, you should be realistic about the goals of your project and what you want to accomplish. In addition, there are opportunities to do research at away institutions as well– plan early if you want to do this.
Clinical experience: Some students choose to get a head start on 3rd year and pursue an in-depth clinical experience with a physician mentor or mentors. For example, my school has a hospital medicine preceptorship, where students can join medicine teams consisting of attendings and residents. This is a great way to sharpen clinical skills and apply what you’ve learned over your first year.
Global health: Arguably the most interesting option, some students decide to pursue global health projects in various locations around the world. At my school, the global health center sponsors several week long projects that interested medical students can apply for. These experiences are a good way to gain clinical and research experience in different settings abroad, as well as being a great excuse to travel.
Nothing: Or rather, not a structured program such as the ones mentioned above. Some students don’t have the time or interest to do a summer program, and instead spend time with family, travel, relax, etc. This option is totally ok – no one is going to force you to do anything, and it won’t hurt you much in residency applications later as long as you talk positively about your experience.
As for me, I’ll be working in an ophthalmology lab by day, and eating, drinking, exercising, and exploring Los Angeles by night. Hope you make the most of your summer!