What Should Pre-Med Students Do in The Summer?

November 28, 2023
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 8/1/23

What should pre-med students do in the summer? Keep reading to find out how to make your pre-med summer productive and meaningful.

As a pre-med student, your journey to a medical career has already begun. The summer months provide you with a unique opportunity to enhance your resume, gain practical experience, and even learn new things. 

From research opportunities to volunteer work, the choices are ample. Here are six things that every pre-med student can consider doing during the summer.

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6 Things for Pre-Med Students to Do in the Summer

Below is a list of things for pre-med students to do in the summer.

1. Engage in Clinical Experience

One of the most valuable experiences a pre-med student can have is hands-on clinical experience. Internships, job shadowing, or volunteering at local hospitals or clinics can provide real-world exposure to medical practices. 

These experiences help you understand the daily life of healthcare professionals, enriching your knowledge and strengthening your commitment to the medical field.

Two people in a lab

2. Take Part in Research Projects

Summer is the perfect time to delve into research. Many universities and medical institutions offer research programs that pre-med students can participate in. Conducting or assisting in research deepens your understanding of medical concepts, enhances critical thinking, and provides a taste of the innovative side of medicine.

A man looking through a microscope

3. Enroll in Relevant Courses

Often, academic schedules during the year can get quite hectic, leaving little room to explore additional courses. The summer period allows you to enroll in courses that pique your interest or fill gaps in your knowledge. It is a fantastic opportunity to participate in pre-med programs, which can significantly enhance your medical school application and provide a more profound understanding of the field. 

Online platforms offer a wealth of classes in subjects like bioethics, medical terminology, or even a new language, all of which can complement your pre-med studies.

A classroom

4. Prepare for the MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a significant component of your medical school application. The summer break gives you an ample amount of uninterrupted time to prepare for this crucial exam. Consider setting a consistent study schedule, utilizing prep books or online resources, and taking plenty of practice tests.

A stack of books covering a person

5. Volunteer in Your Community

Volunteering is not only personally rewarding, but it also demonstrates your commitment to serving others, which is a key quality for any aspiring doctor. Whether it's a local food bank, a senior citizen home, or a community clean-up initiative, there are plenty of ways to give back and gain experience outside of a medical setting.

Three people volunteering

6. Prioritize Self-Care and Personal Growth

Finally, amidst all the clinical experiences and academic endeavors, remember to take care of yourself. The journey to becoming a doctor is a marathon, not a sprint. Use your summer to focus on your physical health, mental well-being, and personal interests. Read a book, learn a new hobby, or spend time with family and friends.

A woman doing yoga

The question, "What should pre-med students do in the summer?" has numerous answers. It all boils down to your personal interests, career goals, and current needs. Whatever you choose to do, make sure your pre-med summer is productive, enriching, and reflective of the physician you aim to become.

FAQs: What to Do During the Summer as a Pre-Med

The journey to medical school is a challenging one. As a pre-med student, it's crucial to use your time effectively, especially during the summer. But what should pre-med students do in the summer? Here's a comprehensive guide to answer that question.

1. What to Do During the Summer as a Pre-Med?

As a pre-med student, summer is an invaluable time to advance your academic and professional skills. You can participate in research or clinical experiences, take a few pre-med courses, or even work with a tutor to help you prepare for the MCAT

Of course, be sure to take some time to yourself; it’s still summer break, after all! You can spend some time pursuing your favorite hobbies, take care of your mental and physical health, or even travel to a new city.

Remember, what matters most is quality, not quantity. Choose activities that genuinely interest you and can contribute to your growth as an aspiring physician.

2. Do Med Schools Look Down on Summer Classes?

One of the frequently asked questions is whether medical schools look down on summer classes. The short answer is no. Schools generally understand that students have diverse educational paths and varying circumstances. Taking pre-med summer classes demonstrates initiative and commitment to learning.

Summer classes offer a unique chance to focus on complex subjects and gain a deeper understanding. It's an opportunity to boost your GPA, cover prerequisites, or learn new things. However, ensure these classes consume only some of your summer. Balance is key to making the most out of your summer break.

3. Should Pre-Med Students Work During the Summer?

Yes, pre-med students can benefit significantly from summer employment. Jobs and internships provide valuable real-world experiences, helping students develop necessary soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, and teamwork.

Work experience in a healthcare setting can be particularly beneficial. Whether it's a job at a local clinic, hospital, or research lab, these roles provide insights into the medical field, augmenting classroom learning. Remember, it's not just about earning money but also about acquiring skills and experiences to enhance your med school application.

4. How Can Pre-Med Students Use the Summer to Prepare for the MCAT?

Another excellent way pre-med students can utilize their summer is by preparing for the MCAT. This crucial exam requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of various subjects. Hence, dedicating a portion of your summer to focused study can be beneficial.

Create a study schedule that focuses on areas of weakness. Use this time to take practice tests, review complex concepts, and develop test-taking strategies. There are several online resources and study groups available to assist you in your preparation. Remember, the MCAT is not just about memorization but understanding and applying concepts.

5. Should Pre-Med Students Consider Shadowing Doctors During the Summer?

Absolutely! Shadowing doctors is an invaluable experience for any pre-med student. It allows you to witness the day-to-day life of a medical professional, providing a realistic view of what to expect.

Summer is an excellent time to arrange for these experiences. Shadowing can help you understand various specialties, learn about patient interaction, and get a feel for the hospital or clinic environment. These experiences can be a decisive factor in confirming your desire to pursue a career in medicine.

Final Thoughts

The summer presents a fantastic opportunity for pre-med students to advance toward medical school. Whether taking a challenging class, working in a healthcare setting, preparing for the MCAT, or shadowing a doctor, each experience adds value to your overall preparation.

The keyword here is balance. Refrain from overcommitting yourself to the extent that you lose the chance to relax and recharge. After all, it's your break. So while you plan your pre-med summer, make sure you also set aside some time for relaxation and self-care. It's all part of the journey to becoming a successful medical professional.

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