Study Tips

Six Ways to Stay Productive During Summer Break

Jannel Lawrence
Published on Jun 20, 2020. Updated on Sep 15, 2020.

It’s tough to slow down during school breaks after being immersed in the fast-paced environment of the med school semester. If you’re like second-year medical student Jannel Lawrence, you’re looking for ways to stay active during these breathers. In this article, Jannel discusses her six tips for keeping the momentum going during the summer.

As a second-year medical student, I often find it difficult to do anything besides study. During breaks from school, I try to engage myself in something that is both beneficial and enjoyable. The length of breaks during medical school vary in terms of the curriculum and also on the school’s location. Below are some of the ways that I have managed to stay productive during breaks from school.

1. Learn something new

It is said that a good hobby can also be a good stress reliever. Opportunities are all around us, and it is up to us to make use of them. You can learn a new language, a new skill, or experiment with various recipes in the kitchen. Learning something new is a great way to gain a sense of accomplishment, and it also helps to build self-confidence, because you will now have the ability to tackle new tasks!

2. Create a blog (or contribute to one!)

If you enjoy writing and have the ability to organize your thoughts, this can be a great way to occupy free time away from school. Creating a blog can be the avenue whereby you can showcase your writing skills, and it can be an excellent way by which students can learn from each other. A blog can be a place through which you can share your educational journey with other aspiring medical students, who may need some guidance. Blogging enables you to have a voice and also to have a record of your journey through medicine. 

If starting your own blog sounds like too much of a commitment, you can always submit a pitch as a contributor. The Osmosis blog is currently accepting submissions. Contact [email protected] for more details!  

Osmosis illustration of a student writing a blog post.

3. Enroll in an online course 

If you are someone who believes in learning something new every day, then completing a short online course in a topic that you find interesting is something that you will enjoy. Aside from my medical coursework, I have found the time to complete a basic life support and first aid/CPR course offered by the National Health Service provider solutions and a few health-based short courses with edX. The length of the courses on edX run as short as two weeks to as much as 12 weeks. Because the majority of the online courses are self-paced, you can even complete them in a couple of days. 

4. Join a professional organization

Since becoming a medical student, I have been able to join some organizations—many of which are specific to specialties in internal medicine, which is the specialty that I am passionate about pursuing. There are many professional organizations in various specialties that students can join, such as the American College of Physicians, American Medical Students Organization, American College of Cardiology, amongst others. Many medical organizations offer free membership to students, which eliminates the issue of cost as a deciding factor when joining. 

By joining professional medical organizations, I was able to become exposed to multiple opportunities, such as becoming a part of student leadership groups, obtaining discounted prices at national conferences, gaining mentorship, getting the opportunity to participate in abstract competitions, and networking with other medical professionals. These organizations also provide resources to students, which can help with their medical school performance, choosing a specialty, and applying to residency programs

Osmosis illustration of medical students networking at a professional event.

5. Review content from a previous semester 

As a second-year medical student who is currently in their fourth semester of basic sciences, I often tend to forget the material learnt from previous semesters—especially from semester one and two. For those who absolutely enjoy studying and can’t help but continue during a break, then it can thus prove to be the perfect time to review material that was taught during earlier semesters, which will certainly show up on board exams.

6. Volunteer for a cause you care about 

Many of us choose the medical profession because we want to make a difference in someone else’s life and volunteering is a great way to do so. It not only proves that you’re committed to a cause, but it can also be a way to boost your leadership skills. Those who can’t find the time to volunteer with a local agency or abroad can also consider virtual volunteering with agencies such as the United Nations.

Besides those that I have listed, there are many more ways that you can keep yourself occupied during breaks. Doing something besides studying is not only good for your mental health but also your physical well-being. 

About Jannel 

Jannel Lawrence is a second year medical student at Ross University School of Medicine who is originally from Dominica, and graduate of the Osmosis Medical Education Fellowship program. She plans on specializing in Internal Medicine. In her free time, she enjoys writing, reading, and spending time with friends and family.

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