Is there a summer break in medical school?
Medical school is a training ground where you learn all the necessary knowledge and skills to become a physician.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t chill and breathe fresh air aside from academic work.
This guide summarizes the ideal medical training timeline and occasions where you may take breaks off school work.
Do You Get Summer And Winter Breaks In Medical School?
Every country has a unique medical education system that the students employ during training.
In the US medical schools, you usually get a summer break after the first year of med school (M1). After this holiday, your training is a roller-coaster ride till graduation!
Is there a summer break in medical school? Yes! Most universities give 6-10 weeks of holiday, usually from July to September, between the first and second year. You would also get Christmas break from 1-2 weeks during December.
After the second year, you may get a short break beginning in late May or early June and ending on the first day of July. Asides from that, there is no break till you complete your medical training (between the 3rd and 4th year).
After the first year, where you learn the basic sciences- anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, cell biology, genetics- you proceed into clinical studies in the other half of the second year. Here, you shuffle through the academics and clinics till the final year.
European med schools take a different turn. They offer winter break from late December to early February and summer break from early July to September.
Whichever school you’re attending, you’d expect to get some weeks off academic work during the summer of the first year. This break is usually the only one you’d enjoy before the journey gets more challenging, so you should use it well.
How To Maximize Summer Break In Medical School
1. Read for your USMLE or professional examinations
Students in the United States write the USMLE, a professional exam that qualifies them to apply for residency training. Yes, this can be one challenging obstacle, but with proper preparation, you can ace it and match it after graduation.
According to statistics from the 2021/2022 USMLE match, 7.1% of US medical graduates didn’t match into residency.
Understand that not everyone will get into training depending on the step scores, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and clerkship grades.
But if you have an opportunity to gain a competitive edge, why leave it?
Summer vacation for medical students is usually a great time to catch up with studies, understand concepts better and prepare for the USMLE step 1.
2. Spend time with family and friends
Let’s be honest; a good life is one spent with people you love.
Medical school can be overwhelming such that you get little time to hang out with your old buddies and catch up on the latest happenings at home.
With the summer break in medical school, you have a tremendous opportunity to connect with your parents and siblings, so why won’t you?
Use this period to travel back home and feel your motherly and fatherly love.
3. Go on a vacation
Medical school can be time-consuming; there are many things to learn- human anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, etc. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy vacations like ordinary people.
Do you have a favorite spot you’ve been longing to visit? The summer vacation for medical students is an excellent time to unwind and explore the world. After all, you may not get this opportunity again.
4. Shadow a physician
Your CV is vital in the medical field, especially after graduation during the USMLE match. Here, interviewers love to know extracurricular skills like research and volunteering experience. Therefore, shadowing a physician is a brilliant way to spend your summer break in medical school.
Start by deciding which type of physician you want to become and searching for such opportunities. Go through directories and get a list of physicians working in your desired specialty.
After you’ve compiled the list and their contacts, proceed to reach out. Talk to your local physician and explain your ordeal. They’re usually the best to meet during your holiday.
5. Engage in research programs
Do you want to be a cardiologist or Neurosurgeon?
Despite the specialty you’re considering, one good way to prepare adequately is to engage in research programs relating to your field.
Now that you have a break from medical school, you can meet your institution and seek research opportunities. You can start working on clinical projects that are easier to complete, like chart reviews and retrospective studies.
If you’re already at it, this break can be an excellent time to sharpen your research skill and become an expert.
6. Find your hobbies and skills, again
I’d be honest; juggling your hobbies and skills with studying in medical school can be tiring.
I love writing, and I do more of it during my holidays. But when school session begins, I lose flair and dump them.
Fortunately, you can locate your hobbies and skills during your summer medical school break. Is there something you love doing? It could be drawing, singing, website designing, or coding.
Refresh your mental health by doing something off medicine using your hobbies.
7. Catch good sleep during summer break in medical school
The workload of things to learn in medical school is insane. This bulkiness causes students to cut their sleep time to catch up with studying. While it’s normal, you should use your break to build good sleeping habits. Don’t stay late into the night but give your body the rest it deserves.
If your school allows summer break between the first and second year of medical school, you can go for vacations and visit your favorite places. This break usually lasts 6-10 weeks so that you can do anything.
Typically, your weekends are free as a medical student. But getting a break from academics? It depends on what you want.
Usually, there’d be tons of academic work to read up on and topics to cover, which makes most medical students study during weekends. But this doesn’t mean you can’t take some time off, visit a restaurant, watch football, or go on a date.
Do medical students have summer vacation? Yes! Between your first and second years of medical training, you’d usually get some time off academics. This period lasts for 6-10 weeks. However, embrace the challenge and participate in productive activities like research, shadowing a physician, and even resting.
Overall, be prepared that being a doctor is a life-long journey, and you may not get all the breaks you want.