What to Do the Summer Before Medical School

August 23, 2023
4 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 8/8/23

Thinking about what to do the summer before medical school? Let's dive right in.

The medical school journey is known to be long, strenuous, and demanding. Rightfully so, it shapes future doctors who have a significant role in our society. However, the "summer before medical school" is a unique phase, often overlooked but pivotal in setting the tone for the journey ahead.

The countdown to your first year of medical school can be both thrilling and nerve-wracking. It's a period filled with anticipation, dreams, and the awareness that your life is about to change dramatically. This transitional time is your last stretch of freedom before the rigorous journey of medical school officially begins.

This article will break down what you need to do to prepare for medical school during the summer and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this exciting yet overwhelming time. 

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Things to Do the Summer Before Medical School

Not sure what to do during the summer leading up to your first year of med school? Take a look at our top suggestions!

1. Reflect and Reset

Use this time for some well-earned relaxation. You've made it through the rigorous pre-med curriculum and the grueling medical school application process, which means you deserve a break. Reflect on your accomplishments, rest, and reset your mind. After all, a calm mind absorbs information better.

2. Brush Up on Your Study Skills

Medical school is a whole new ball game. The amount of information, terminology and jargon you need to learn can feel overwhelming, and it's all coming at you at breakneck speed. 

Spend your summer before medical school brushing up on study skills that will serve you well in this new environment. Experiment with techniques like flashcards, concept maps, or the Pomodoro method until you find what works best.

3. Start Networking

Establishing a network with peers, mentors, and professionals can offer immense benefits. It not only helps in gaining valuable insights but also in building lasting friendships. 

Attend pre-medical school orientations, connect with your future classmates, or contact mentors for advice on making the most of your medical school experience.

4. Plan Your Schedule

Plan out your schedule in advance. While you won't have your entire schedule before classes begin, you can adjust your schedule. Prioritize your time for studying, extracurricular activities, and personal care. Time management is essential in medical school, and planning your schedule is an excellent place to start.

5. Stay Healthy

Your health, both physical and mental, is critical. If you’re not feeling well, it will be hard to focus on anything, let alone the rigors of medical school. 

Set healthy habits, incorporate physical activity into your routine, eat a balanced diet, and don't forget about your mental health. Practicing mindfulness or other stress-management techniques can be helpful.

6. Explore the City

If you're moving to a new place, take some time to explore your new city. Familiarize yourself with the location of important places like grocery stores, hospitals, parks, and your school campus. Getting acclimated to your surroundings will make the transition easier once medical school begins.

The summer before medical school is a time for preparation and relaxation. It's a chance to catch your breath before the next chapter begins. Enjoy this transition to medical school!

FAQs: Summer Before Med School

As you approach the exciting yet daunting prospect of starting med school, you might wonder how to spend your last summer before the journey begins. This period is an opportune time to rest, prepare, and set personal and professional goals. 

Here, we'll delve into a few frequently asked questions to help you make the most out of the summer before med school.

1. Should I Study the Summer Before Medical School?

The summer before med school is a particular time. Most of you might be contemplating using this time to get a head-start on your studies. But here's some food for thought. 

You're about to embark on a rigorous, academically challenging journey. Many professionals suggest that you take this time to rest, relax, and recharge before the demanding medical school life begins.

The transition to medical school can be challenging, but you'll have plenty of time to hit the books once the semester begins. Over-studying in the summer won't necessarily give you a significant advantage, but it can contribute to early burnout

Your primary focus this summer should be on wellness and self-care. It's crucial to start medical school feeling refreshed, not exhausted. 

2. What Should I Do the Month Before Medical School?

Let's talk about that crucial last month before medical school starts. This is a pivotal time to ensure you're logistically and mentally prepared for what's ahead. 

Consider tying up loose ends, ensuring your finances are in order, securing accommodation, and completing your course enrollment. Also, familiarize yourself with the school's location, hospitals, and local amenities. 

Moreover, connect with your future classmates. Social media or school-provided resources can facilitate this. Creating a supportive network from the outset will be invaluable during your medical school journey.

Lastly, engage in activities you enjoy. Once school starts, your time for hobbies may diminish. Whether hiking, reading, painting or any other activity, the month before school is a perfect time to indulge in what brings you joy.

3. How Can I Prepare for the Transition to Medical School During the Summer?

Preparation for the transition to medical school is more about mental readiness than academic preparation. It's about understanding and accepting the challenges and building strategies to handle them.

Start by setting realistic expectations. Medical school will be demanding, both intellectually and emotionally. Recognize that there will be days when things feel overwhelming, and that's okay.

Another critical aspect of preparation involves establishing a healthy lifestyle. Cultivate habits like regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and a regular sleep schedule. These habits will be pivotal in handling stress and maintaining energy levels.

Lastly, develop strong time management skills. Efficient use of your time will be crucial once you start medical school, so it's worth practicing these skills over the summer. 

Final Thoughts

The summer before medical school should be a time of rest, reflection, and preparation. Although the allure of getting ahead academically can be strong, it's crucial to prioritize your well-being during this period. Engage in activities that rejuvenate you, connect with future classmates, and prepare mentally for the demanding yet rewarding journey.

Every physician's journey begins with a single step. This summer is that first step. How you spend it can set the tone for your medical school experience. So, make it count!

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