Summertime is here! What we have all been waiting for! Do you have any exotic vacations planned to Thailand, Spain, or all the way to your couch, watching Netflix?
I am not here to burst your bubble (well, actually, I kind of am, but it’s for your own good), but unfortunately, if you are in college, especially if you are wanting to enter into a competitive field of career, such as, medicine, your summers should probably be somewhat productive. That’s not to say that you absolutely must not have any type of free time whatsoever to catch up on this season of Grey’s Anatomy or re-watch Friends for the 5th time, but what you must understand is that building credibility has no breaks. In reality, anyone in the working class will tell you that there is no such thing as a summer vacation.
I agree, growing up sucks, but what you work for does reap its benefits. If you are a lazy pre-med or know a lazy pre-med who isn’t planning on doing anything at all this summer, please go ahead and make sure they get this message: Medical schools will look to see if you have done anything with your summers in which shows that you are truly passionate about medicine or if you are only doing the bare minimum during school. If you have not been productive, you better have a good reason as to why your brain was not able to function for ~100 days.
If you just have no idea what to do and don’t know where to look and how to start, this might help:
- Hospitals & Clinics– so many local hospitals and clinics love taking in volunteers! All you need to do is ask Uncle G (Google) for a list of numbers and addresses. You can call and introduce yourself as the college student that you are, and then, ask if they take in volunteers. If they do, make sure to ask how you can apply. Usually they will either have a link on their website, or you would have to physically grab a copy. Hours vary, of course, but from my experience, hospitals usually require a 4-hour commitment each week, which is not bad at all. This is a great way to earn volunteer hours. You get exposed to the managerial and operational side of medicine.
- Nursing Homes and Shelters– Help your elderly! You’ll learn to cherish your younger years more and to live life to the fullest. You’ll also hear some very interesting stories from the patients there if you play your cards right. Volunteer at any shelter! Animal shelters, homeless shelters, etc. With this experience, you get to see your life in a new light and how truly blessed you are to have a roof over your head and food on your table everyday. You will also have the chance to help those in need, furry or not! If you aren’t comfortable in doing this alone, ask a friend to volunteer with you. You’ll create new memories together and strengthen your relationship with each other. A win-win situation for everyone!
- Food Banks– Food banks can always use your help with sorting and organizing food and water. You are helping individuals and families eat! Trust me, it’s a good a feeling knowing that you helped put food on someone’s table.
- Parks and Recreation Centers– Help your community become more beautiful by cleaning up! Build a team out of your friends and pick a day when you just pick up trash in your community. Make sure you have permission by going online and looking through the community’s contact information to ask whoever is in charge, so you don’t get in trouble for trespassing or whatever excuse someone can come up with to get you in trouble.
- Law Enforcement Programs– Sometimes, your local police department will have programs like: putting school supplies in backpacks to give to those who can’t afford it, making sure stores and gas stations are not selling cigarettes to minors, etc. Also, maybe the courthouse needs help as well. Whichever interests you, go for it and just ask. The first step to anything is asking the right questions.
- Place of worship– Whether it’s a church, synagogue, or a Hindu temple, if you are religious, you might be able to assist your religious leaders with teaching or assisting them with the students and/or guests. Again, you just have to ask. The worst thing they can say is no.
- Library– lots of local libraries have summer reading programs for kids that you might be able to help out with. That is, if you have the patience to remind kids to use their inside voices when they get too loud.
This is probably something you need to apply for in advance. If you already got in, then congratulations! You won’t really need to do anything else for the summer, unless you truly want to, because an internship will take up quite a bit of your time. It’s also more difficult to find internships. I will have a blog post in the future in which will focus solely on internships, but for now, if you want to have the reference for the future, bookmark this website and check it in October (when they usually open applications for summer internships): Summer Pre-med opportunities
Reading this, you’re probably saying, “GROSS” in your head right now. I know. You just finished your semester, and the last thing you need right now is even more school. I didn’t say it had to be academic classes that you would take, although it is cheaper and easier to take classes at a community college over the summer, compared to taking it at a regular four-year university. Also, it’ll help you get ahead and maybe graduate early.
You can take other classes for fun, such as:
- dance classes at your community’s studio (click this if you’re in Dallas)
- cooking classes
- paramedic classes
- suture classes (if you’re weird like me and you want to learn how to close up a cut on a pig’s foot or practice your stitches on a banana peel)
- CPR/AED – even if you are not pre-med, this is a very important and useful skill to have. You don’t always have to be a doctor or any other first responder to save a life.
- painting classes
Get a Job:
If you are pre-med, try applying as
- a scribe (PhysAssist, Scribeology, Scribe America)
- a clerk for any hospital or clinic
- a pharmacy technician
- paramedic (you have to pay to get your certification and train for this)
- anything that has to do with medicine
If you absolutely can’t do any of those, apply as
- a tutor for places like Kumon, Mathnasium, Varsity Tutors, SAT/ACT Prep, etc.
- a lifeguard
- a summer camp counselor with your local gym
- a daycare assistant
- a babysitter
- anything that requires you to be patient and empathetic
If you truly just don’t care what job you get, go for it, I’m not stopping you. Plus, you’ll have extra money!
This is also a bit hard to find, but honestly, if you are itching to step foot into the OR, like I was, just go to a Physician office building, and literally, knock on every door. The worst they can say is no. I also will have a separate post regarding this topic in the near future, so stay tuned!
You most likely will have to pay for this, but it is such a good experience to get out of the city, state, or even country to help others in need. There are many different kinds of mission trips. There are surgical mission trips, dental mission trips, religious mission trips, mission trips where you help animals, teach kids english or math, preserve a certain landmark, build houses for the homeless, etc. Try to ask any professor, your advisor, nurses or doctors that you know to see if they can help lead you in how to partake in one of those.
Go, and be great! Have fun, but never lose track of your goals. I hope that your final grades start off your summer well, and if you know that they probably will only ruin your summer, don’t look at your gradebook until after summer! You pouting and worrying about it won’t make a difference, anyway. Enjoy!
“Perseverance is the hard work that you do after you get tired of the hard work that you already did.”