What Every Aspiring Medic Should Do Over the Christmas Break
If you are entering the beloved (and well-needed) Christmas break feeling unsure of how to use your precious free time, you’re not alone. Maybe your to-do list includes both “buy present for cat” and “get into medicine”, and you just don’t know where to start.
If this sounds like you, then read on! Here are some hints and tips will help you to enjoy your holiday and use your time wisely.
Relaxing may seem like a flimsy choice for first on the list, but take this seriously! Make sure you don’t burn out. Have days of sitting in your fluffy pyjamas watching films, or days of seeing family and having fun! The worst thing you can do is allow the pressure of a medicine application to take over your life and holiday. One of my A-level teachers always told us to have the first week completely ‘off’ and then revise/work/prepare for the remaining time. You may need less or more than a week, but the principle of dedicating time for yourself is important and it works!
Prioritising is the key this holiday! Write down a list of everything that you need to do. If you have many commitments, it might be best to compartmentalise your lists. For example a medicine list, revision list, personal list, social list etc. I’m going to focus on the medicine list, but ensure you give time to your other commitments too!Depending on your stage in the medicine application process, what is most important will vary.
3. If You’re Preparing for An Interview:
Congratulations on receiving an invite to interview! Knowing the med school and its interview process inside out should be your medicine priority. The more confident you feel walking into that interview, the better! I would also prioritise practicing common interview questions, brushing up on topics like medical ethics, recent health news and being aware of GMC guidance. Lighter tasks include ensuring you have something appropriate to wear (sales!) and organising travel.
4. If You’re Waiting for Invitations to Interview:
So many people have, are and will be in your position! I know it feels like everyone else has an invite and you don’t – but remember many invites are sent out after Christmas. Your medicine priority should be to keep on top of recent medical news and keep ‘in the medicine loop’. This way you will easily be able to prepare when you finally get that invite! Maybe most importantly – resist the urge to constantly refresh your emails and don’t panic!
5. If You’re Waiting to Apply in the Next Academic Year:
If you’re waiting to apply to medicine, this Christmas is the perfect time to organise your plans for the next 9 months! The more you organise yourself now, the easier the application process. Your medicine priorities should include:
Researching medical schools, their requirements and style
Researching and organising work experience and volunteering opportunities (these sometimes need organising months in advance!)
Identifying your weaknesses (e.g. not much experience, grades, little research into the career, no positions of responsibility) and making plans to strengthen them in time for next October!
If you like to read, this is conveniently a form of productive relaxation! There are a wealth of medicine-related books out there to get your hands on, and these few weeks will hopefully offer you some time to just sit down with a cuppa and a good book. Some books that are worth a read and may help with applications/interviews:
This is Going to Hurt (Adam Kay)
Your Life in My Hands (Rachel Clarke)
Being Mortal (Atul Gawande)
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (Oliver Sacks)
When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi)
Making a Medic (David Brill)
These books give different accounts of life as a doctor and lessons learnt! They are a great talking point, especially if you can be critical of them. A few doctors have disagreed with some points in these books. If you can argue that your own experience of healthcare differs or is similar to that of the books, it shows real initiative!
This is probably the last thing you want to hear, but revising a little over Christmas should be on your list! All this medicine prep is essential, but ensuring you get the grades/predicted grades is paramount. If you have exams (mocks or not) coming up in the New Year, don’t neglect them!
Wherever you are on your journey to medicine, I hope you have a lovely, relaxing holiday that leaves you feeling refreshed and ready for the New Year!