How to WIN as a Premed this WINter Break
Written by: Alexandra Alvarez
Edited by: Lara Rostomian
The end of this semester/quarter is just around the corner, which means you are just a few weeks (or days) away from finals and some very well-deserved time off! However, for some of us, this long time off leaves us unsure of what we can do over winter break as Premeds. Well, AMWA has got you covered with suggestions on how you can spend your winter break!
Make Summer Plans:
Gaining valuable exposure to the field of medicine is important for showing admissions committees that you have thought about why this is the right career for you, and summer is a great time to work on gaining some of these experiences. Most summer programs have deadlines during the winter, so it is never too early to start researching and applying for summer positions at labs, clinical settings, hospitals, etc. During your downtime at home, in between spending time with friends and families, go onto your school’s career center website and check out the listings they have there. You could also research online for programs in areas you are interested in spending your summer. Having this time off from classes can be super beneficial because you can spend more time making your applications the best that they could be without having to worry about midterms, homework, and finals!
Learn about the Application Process:
If you are applying to medical school in 2019, now is a good time to start thinking about your application timeline as well as the personal statement, and letters of recommendation. Winter break is a great time to start familiarizing yourself with the AMCAS website for information, resources, and tutorials that aid in the application process. Other websites also offer great resources and information on the medical school application process, we recommend The Official Guide to Medical School Admissions.
Start Studying for the MCAT:
If you are taking your MCAT exam in January you have probably already started studying and are already planning to study over the break. However, if you are planning to take the MCAT later in the year, winter break is a great time to start making a study plan. Many websites offer tips on getting started as well as offer various resources for MCAT prep. AMWA also offers many membership benefits for MCAT prep, so be sure to familiarize yourself with those before committing an organization for your MCAT prep. Use this time to reflect on your study habits to develop a personalized study plan based on your preferences, schedule, and learning style.
Whether you are going home for the holidays or staying in your school’s area, there are lots of opportunities to get involved in your community. It is important to remember that wherever you choose to volunteer, it does not have to fit the Premed “checklist”. You can volunteer wherever you feel is most valuable and meaningful to you, whether that be at clinics, homeless shelters, tutoring centers, food banks, hospitals, senior homes, etc. Wherever you are spending your break, look into places to volunteer in the area and contact people to see if you can set up a volunteering opportunity. Aside from volunteering, this long winter break is a great opportunity to gain some shadowing experience! You can look into hospitals, clinics, etc. around you and see if there are any physicians who you can shadow over the break. Not only will you be gaining experience, but you will also be learning so much more about the field!
Relax and Recharge:
As Premeds, we often feel like we consistently need to be doing something and that we cannot take breaks. Remember though, you just got through a busy and likely intense semester/quarter. Feel like you need a break? That is COMPLETELY FINE, you deserve it! Taking a step back to spend time with family members and friends that you may not have seen in a long time is more than okay. Sleep in, relax your mind and your body, catch up on a TV show, spend time at home with loved ones, or go out and explore; do whatever is going to help you recharge and relax in preparation for the New Year and also for a new semester/quarter. Learning how to find a balance in your mental health and academic/professional life is an essential skill that will help you be successful not only now but through the rest of your Premed/Prehealth journey.
“Let us choose for ourselves our path in life, and let us try to strew that path with flowers.”-Emilie du Châtelet, mathematician, physicist, and author
No matter what you choose to do with your winter break, AMWA wishes you all a safe and amazing winter break. Good Luck with Finals and be sure to check back soon for our next blog post and if any of you have suggestions for future posts or any topics that you want to see written about, then make sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org!