Summer breaks: You crave them all year long. They’re all you can think about during never- ending weeks of finals. They never last long enough to do everything you want to do, but they’re just long enough to make you feel like you should be doing something productive with your time.

Stay Inspired

The track to an MD is a long and hard one. The majority of students who start out “premed” don’t actually make it. Don’t let this be you. Stay inspired to pursue your dreams by surrounding yourself with constant reminders of why you wanted to be a doctor in the first place. Read the writings of physicians, connect with current medical students, write down your dreams–do whatever it takes to keep your dream alive regardless of the outcome of your finals.

Boost Your Application

Even though summer breaks are a precious luxury that really only exist while you’re still a student, they probably aren’t something you should squander away. While some time for refreshment and relaxation is entirely justifiable (and often necessary for future success), summer break is also an excellent time to engage in activities that will boost your resume/medical school application. Shadowing physicians is a great idea but there are also definitely many other ways to boost your application as well. Consider working a summer REU (Research Experience for Undergrads) or volunteering on a summer medical trip abroad. Both options will help you appear as a motivated and well rounded individual.

Review

If you’re a premed student, the MCAT is probably looming in your future at some point or another. If you plan on taking your MCAT during the summer or the beginning of a school year, then summer break is the optimal time to review all of the materials fo it. Take a review course, work through practice tests, build up your test-taking endurance–do whatever you need to do to be at the top of your game on test day. If you’re a premed student about to start your first year of medical school, reviewing materials is not quite as important. However, it certainly wouldn’t hurt you to start looking over some anatomy, biochem, or physiology materials from undergrad in preparation for the year ahead. Even though the medical school versions of these courses are significantly more intense than their undergrad counterparts, choosing to review some materials may still be beneficial.

Refresh

Finally, even though it’s important to wisely utilize your few short months of summer break, it’s also important to remember to take care of your physical and mental health as well. Are you exhausted from pulling all-nighters in preparation for finals? Use summer break to work your way back into a healthy sleeping schedule. Do you feel burned out from only reading science textbooks all year? Treat yourself to some leisure reading by the pool. Even if you’re busy with research, shadowing, and studying it’s still important to take time for the things you love and are refreshed by. Entering a new school year still burned out from the last one will only hurt you in the long run.

Overall, enjoy your summer breaks, but use them wisely. Use them to refresh yourself, but also use them to learn and grow in knowledge through shadowing, research, and volunteering. Perhaps most importantly, be sure that you find a way to take pleasure and interest in whatever you end up doing with your summer. There’s a pretty good chance that a question about it might come up during your med school interview; if you spent your summer wasting it away or doing something you loathed (like a boring research project), it will definitely show during your interview. Make the most of your summer breaks now–they don’t really exist after you’ve completed your second year of medical school!