Premed advisors have been supporting their students from makeshift home offices around the country, helping them with their concerns — including how to navigate pass/fail grades and medical schools’ prerequisites, deciding what to do as summer internships have been cancelled, and rescheduling MCAT® exam dates.
As I talk with students in virtual appointments, I try to address all of these concerns, but I also ask advisees what they are doing to tend to their own physical and mental health. This is a time when students should feel that they have permission to step away from forward planning toward medical school to ensure that they are engaging in self-care and coping adequately with this overwhelming and anxiety-inducing pandemic (see the suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization for managing stress during the pandemic).
If your personal situation prevents you from engaging in a premed-focused summer opportunity — for example, if your family needs you to care for younger siblings so they can work or you lack adequate internet to engage in online projects — medical schools will understand that these are unprecedented times and will consider your context and situation, which you can share through your application and in your interviews.
If you have the bandwidth and resources that put you in a space where you want to engage with and serve the community, expand your knowledge of health care, or learn more about doctoring, advisor members of the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP) have been crowdsourcing a list of ideas, news articles, and other resources that may help you think about ways to meet these goals. A few favorites:
- Consider creative ways that you can be helpful within your local community — reconnecting with high school mentors may help you brainstorm.
- Reach out to retired physicians through your campus’s alumni network and talk with them about their perspective on their careers and on the current pandemic.
- Embrace the time for self-reflection and journaling — thinking about your past experiences as an aspiring physician may help you plan more strategically for the future.
Don’t hesitate to connect with your own advisor for additional ideas they may have (and if you don’t have an advisor, you can request one through the free NAAHP Find an Advisor service). Stay safe and healthy!