Six Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer

Get advice on several ways you can round out your medical school applications over the summer.
A shot of an asian student studying on campus lawn.

Summertime on your mind? You’ve worked hard this semester and have earned some well-deserved time to sit back and slow down for a change. While summer is your time to relax and recharge, it’s also a great opportunity to start focusing on rounding out your medical school applications. So how do you do that? We’ve come up with six ways to help you make the most of your summer.

Volunteer

Volunteering in a healthcare facility or organization not only enhances your medical school application, it’s a chance to see if you enjoy working a medical setting. It’s also an opportunity to network with peers and possible mentors, take on increased responsibility and leadership roles over time, and build your resume. Learn how to find a volunteer opportunity.

Shadow a Doctor

Shadowing a doctor will give you a better understanding of what a doctor’s typical day is like, and may give you good experience to talk about in your applications and interviews for medical school. It’s also a great way to gain familiarity with the vast number of different medical and research environments, as well as specialties. Learn how to find a shadowing opportunity.

Study for the MCAT® Exam

With a little more free time than during the school year, the summer is great time to start preparing for the MCAT exam. The AAMC offers a variety of low and no-cost test preparation materials, including How to Create a Study Plan for the MCAT Exam, The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam, Fifth Edition, as well as Practice Exams. All the preparation materials include questions from real MCAT exams. Learn more about preparing for the exam.

Work in a Lab

There are usually many research opportunities in the summer, both paid and volunteer. The number of medical school applicants who have significant research or lab experience keeps growing, so working in a lab setting will help make you a competitive applicant. It will also help you to determine if a career in medical research could be right for you. Learn how to find a lab opportunity.

Participate in a Program

There are a variety of summer programs out there with different areas of focus, including academic enrichment, study skills and MCAT prep, clinical exposure, or research. Some provide a combination of these activities, like the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program. You can search the AAMC database of summer enrichment programs to find a program that’s a good fit for you.

Find a Mentor

When you’re doing any medically related activity, it’s a good idea to build relationships with knowledgeable people who could be a mentor. A good mentor is a role model who can offer expertise and help you develop your skill set. He or she can help you make connections, meet people, and find opportunities. Learn more about finding and working with a mentor.
 

Already have summer plans? You can use these tips to stay focused during the school year too.

No matter what you choose to do over the summer, don’t forget to have a little fun!