Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What to do during summer holiday...

I tend to see a lot of prospective medical students and current medical students wondering what they should be doing during holidays. For most people they see it as a bit of a dilemma...I personally don't...but some people feel the need to be doing something during the summer.

The most common question I see from prospective medical students is what should you read during summer holiday to prepare for medical school. To be completely honest: you don't need to do any pre-reading unless the medical school specifically told you so (which is unlikely).  If you are a gap year student and haven't studied in a long time - then just quickly look over your biology notes. I don't think looking over your notes will really get you ready for medical school. I don't think it is that big of a jump from school to medical school. I guess it varies from university to university, but for me - there was a gradual introduction to medicine. What did I do the summer before I started medical school? I traveled with parents as I know once I get to university, I won't see them as much - so I spent quality time with them. I did a lot of sleeping. Played social basketball and hockey. Chilled with friends before we all split up across the world for university.  Essentially I did a lot of relaxing..I don't think I did anything related to medicine or prepared for medical school. The most preparing I did was probably reading the intro/welcome guide that the university sent.

Another common question from prospective medical students: What books will I need to buy for medical school? I personally won't buy any books until a few months into medical school. Most medical schools will give you a recommended reading list. Go to the library and take a look at all the textbooks and see which one suits you. Textbooks are expensive so choose wisely. I made the mistake of buying books too early and ended up only using a few of them. Some of my textbooks are still sitting on my shelf looking brand new untouched. If I had to recommend ONE textbook - it would probably be Vander's Human Physiology. It is probably the only textbook I have that is quite beat up and well-used. I found it to be the perfect textbook for the first two years. Again, go to the library and check it out before buying! Kumar and Clarke Clinical Medicine is also another great textbook, but I never really used mine. Medical students from other universities say that it's really useful. I've only used it for certain topics that weren't covered well in lectures. The few chapters that I looked at - I really liked the layout and how things were explained. The only problem I had was that I found that there was a lot of assumed knowledge and some descriptions of certain conditions were too brief.  My friends say that it is either a hit or miss. Some students swear by it. Others like me, don't really care for it. Another textbook you should check out in the library before buying.

So you're a medical student and you're sitting around at home feeling that you should be doing something productive and medically related. If you're in 1st or 2nd year and you've still got a long summer holiday - go enjoy your holiday. As the years progress - your summer holiday will get shorter and shorter. This year, my summer holiday is only 3 weeks. Stupidly short. In first year my summer holiday was 3.5 months! Most of the doctors that I have talked to all told me to not work during my summer holiday as I'm currently doing an audit project. I was quite stressed about it before holiday started trying to get it done so I don't have to worry about it, and I'm glad I did get it done before holiday. Now, I can relax and just sleep as much as I want. Actually might be taking the whole sleeping in to a whole other level. Thinking about it, it's nice to sleep in. Before holiday, I was getting about 4-5 hours of sleep per night. Now I'm well rested as I'm getting about 10-12 hours of sleep...doing some major catch-up. Knowing that my holiday is only 3 weeks, I'm glad I didn't bring any work with me as I'm spending as much time as I can relaxing and doing the things I love to do. Hanging out with friends. Eating good food. Sitting around. Just doing absolutely nothing. Need to get the brain rested as exam season is coming up. So my biggest tip to current medics: RELAX when you can! Enjoy your holidays while they last! Take a break as you'll just end up burning out. Medicine is mentally and physically demanding - give yourself the needed break!

Okay so you're not convinced and you HAVE to do something during summer holiday. Try to avoid doing something medically related. Go volunteer for summer camps. Go volunteer for an activity that you enjoy doing. Do the things that you love to do. For medics: I really advise against shadowing a consultant during your holiday at your local hospital. You'll get to spend all the time you want in the hospital in the near future. For some, your next 30+ years will be working in the hospital. You can follow/observe as many consultants you want when you get back to medical school.

Anyways that kind of gives you an idea what I'm usually up to during holidays and what I think is the best way to enjoy your holiday.


  1. Could you do a guide to starting at Sheffield medical school or med school in general? Which essential books should be bought and which taken out from the library etc...dissection room tips...revision to balance social/academic life...when to start thinking about specialities etc. Just thought it would be good and I can link it to the sheffield medic freshers 2012 group on facebook. Sorry if you've covered any of these before, I'm on my phone and am struggling to search your older posts!

    1. Hi Areeb

      I will do a post on starting medical school in general however wish to keep my blog unrelated to Sheffield university. I do not want to be misleading people about the uni/giving unapproved tips which may come and bite me back in the ass as the school may be able to see the facebook group. I hope you understand.

      Thank you.

  2. Yeah, sure I understand-no problem. Look forward to the general tips for medicine freshers! :)

  3. i agree with you, I`m 3rd year med school now from Indonesia, just finish pharmacology and next semester start clekrship. Honestly I do confuse with what should I do in this holiday? And absolutely I know that we all need relax :)

  4. Hi! Thank you for the advice. I just wanna know how long does it take to be a doctor in England?

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