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Medical School Summers

April 28, 2010

Unless you’re in medical school or have been through medical school, the summer schedule for med students is typically a complete mystery.  Most programs give their students only one summer off–the summer after your first year.  The other three years of med school involve year-round education.  After your second year you only have a month or so off before you begin clinical rotations in July and you have to take the first round of “boards” (USMLE Step 1) before July.  Any free time during this period is dedicated solely to studying for the boards.  The summer between Year 3 and 4 is usually filled with more clinical rotations (no break) and more boards.  You also have to fit in residency applications somewhere in there.

So, med students only get one “free” summer.  What do you do with all that spare time?  It seems the vast majority of med students are over-achievers (that’s how we got into med school in the first place) and end up filling the free months with either research, clinical work, volunteering, or working abroad.  Students do anything from cancer research to being a medical aid at summer camps.  However, if you aren’t interested in any of those things, nobody is forcing you to do anything.

What will I be doing this summer?  Reseach.  Before I came to med school I developed a passion for epidemiological research and, more specifically, quality improvement research.  Although it would be nice to spend a couple months doing absolutely nothing, maybe catching up on some non-medically related reading, I think my time and skills are better spent trying to solve some of the problems plaguing our health care system (on a small scale, of course).  So, I will be spending most of my time at the children’s hospital working on several projects aimed at improving care for pediatric patients.  I’m working with some of the great people I had researched with before medical school.  They are a fun crowd, so even though I will be working all summer I know it’s going to be a great time.

I’m also going to Guatemala for a week to work with some ENT surgeons.  This is going to be a great trip and will hopefully help me brush up on some of my international health skills from grad school.

16 days left…not that I’m counting or anything…

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