Summer before MS-1

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Brilliant rocket surgeon
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 6, 2004
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Clueless college senior looking for idea for this summer :confused:

I would like something that will prepare me somehow for med school or help me choose a specialty. I was thinking continuing research or shadowing. What did you all do?

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I didn't do anything...except travel to europe with my family. I would recommend you rest up and get yourself in a good mood for the years to come.
Play, play, play. You will have very few vacations left and only 1 more of this length in your life (until retirement). While you won't ahve plenty of time to choose a specialty, I think you're better of waiting until your clinical years to help sort things out.
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I second (or third) the advice to play! Have as much fun as possible. You'll be glad you did once the grind of med school begins.

If you choose to ignore this advice, however, something useful might be to read Iserson's "Getting into a Residency" which has a lot of good advice for med school. I didn't read it until the start of my 4th year, when it was pretty much useless to me.

There are a lot of good things that can be said about med school, but the amount of work and lack of free time are not some of them. I would say that you should live your summer as if you were going to jail in August, because that's pretty much what it's like. Every day for the most part is go to class, go to library to study, go home and sleep, repeat. Doing things like traveling or visiting museums or anything like that goes out the window as you are confined to solitary in the bowels of the school with gross anatomy your cruel warden.
For the love of God don't worry about it. Do you really think residencies are going to care what you did over the summer. My advice: Move to where ever you are going to go to school early and get settled in so you know the area and explore what the area offers so when you are crunched for time and need to relax you will have a better idea of things to do.
There's not really anything you can do to lower the workload. Prereading will be a waste. If you really want to do something, contact your big sib and start preparing yourself mentally. Your big sib can tell you what to get, what not to get and what the MS1 myths are that will freak you out first block.

You could also get a book list and look online for cheap textbooks (after talking to your big sib) so you don't get butt-raped by the campus store. I didn't do this, but it's the only thing I could think of that would help.
I did research full time the summer before med school started (mainly because I needed money and didn't have the luxury of doing nothing) and in retrospect it was an excellent choice. The publications from the work I did before med school began rolling in during 1st and 2nd year, making it appear like I was an academic workhorse. I have more publications than most junior phds and its primarily because of the foundation I laid before med school started (I was extremely lucky though in finding a PI that is eager to let students get authorship on as many papers as possible, most PIs are not like that)

If you are set on doing research I would try hooking up with a lab at your school so that you can stick with them throughout med school. You will be thankful when it comes time to apply for residency, having a first author manuscript puts you head and shoulders above 99% of applicants.