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30th November 2020
If you’re 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.

These hints and tips will help you to enjoy your holiday and use your time wisely!

Words by Katie Burrell

Relax

Relaxing may seem like a flimsy choice for first on the list, but take this seriously because academic burnout is real! 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. If you need longer to relax, that’s ok! Think of it as taking time out to rest so you’re recharged for 2021.

Make time to sit in your fluffy pyjamas watching films, or see family and have fun. Depending on which tier you’re in, you might be able to meet a few friends outside to enjoy some outdoor activities.

Prioritise

Prioritising is the key this holiday:

  • Write down a list of everything that you need to do
  • If you have to juggle many commitments, it might be best to compartmentalise your lists. For example a medicine list, revision list, personal list, social list etc
  • Make sure you give your time to other commitments too

If You’re Preparing for An Interview…

One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is 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 practising common interview questions, brushing up on topics like medical ethics, health hot topics and being aware of GMC guidance. Lighter tasks include ensuring you have something appropriate to wear and you know what to expect from your online interview.

If You’re Waiting for Invitations to Interview…

It may feel like everyone else has an invite and you don’t – but remember that 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!

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 nine months! The more you organise yourself now, the easier the application process. Your medicine priorities should include:

Read

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, whether you’re looking for the best books to read before writing your Personal Statement of the best books to read while you prepare for interview.

Some books that are worth a read include:

  • 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, and if you can argue that your own experience of healthcare differs or is similar to that of the books, it shows real initiative!

Revise

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!

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