This week approximately 16,000 US medical students are going to receive their diplomas and become physicians. There are also about 16,000 college graduates who will start medical school later this summer or early in the fall. Congratulations to you all!
Nearly all of you have a well-deserved month (or two) to rest and get ready for the next step in your training. So, I thought it might be helpful to pass on a few words of advice on how to spend your time this summer.
Do NOT study!
- If you are starting your residency and you think it might help relieve your (normal) anxiety, here is what to do: Buy one of the major textbooks and use it to get excited about what you are going to learn. If you want to, plan how you are going to study for the year. Skim the book if you really have to do something to feel less anxious, but don’t spend hours studying.
- If you are getting ready to start medical school – step away from the books! Seriously, there is nothing you can do that will make it any easier, so just enjoy your time off!
Take a vacation (or two or three…)
- Visit family and friends – take a road trip and connect with people you haven’t seen in a while
- Hang out on a beach, go for some great hikes, read some great novels
- Sleep late, eat well, and just rest
Develop (or strengthen) an exercise habit
- Use this summer to develop a daily exercise routine that you can take into your new (and crazy) schedule. Overall, your goal for the summer should be to develop a balanced exercise program (cardio, strength training and flexibility). If you’ve never done any strength training, hire a trainer and learn about it. Your goal should be at least 30 minutes of cardio 4-5 times/week, 2-3 strength training sessions/week and stretching every day. If you develop a balanced exercise routine this summer, it will be much, much easier to continue this once you start medical school or your internship. Commit to doing at least 30 minutes of exercise a day this summer.
- Running is one of the best (and most convenient) cardio exercises for medical students and residents (because it’s cheap, efficient and effective) Use this summer to become a runner. If you hate running, find another good cardio exercise habit to develop instead – but pick one!
- If you don’t own a bicycle, think about getting one that you can use to commute to school or the hospital.
If you don’t know how to cook, learn.
- Unless you want to gain a lot of weight, have poor energy and feel bad, you are really going to have to cook for yourself (or at least plan for good food cooked by someone else). You won’t be able to eat what you need, particularly as an intern, unless you bring the food with you.
- Learn some basic skills to cook simple things. If you have good cooks in your family, have them teach you.
- If you don’t have family members who can teach you, find cooking classes near you and sign up. Many high end grocery stores and gourmet stores offer classes for beginners – look on line for classes near you.
would you say this advice is appropriate for the summer between first and second year of medical school too?
Absolutely! Enjoy your time off! If you have an opportunity to do a little of “enrichment” i.e. research or being with a mentor, I’d encourage that, too… but don’t neglect “refueling” for the next academic year.