Funnily enough I seem to get this question a lot from A-level students who have firm offers for medicine and have a very long summer ahead of them. I assume that because the application process is so drawn out and you have been thinking about medicine for a long time now, you are just excited to get stuck into all things medicine… But dont get to ahead of yourself, here is my advice on what to do with your summer before you start medical school.
A-levels are over: time to celebrate!
You will all have worked incredibly hard in the weeks and months leading up to your A2 examinations, so reward yourself. Give yourself time to relax, celebrate with friends and enjoy life outside of textbooks. A lot of offer holders seem to forget that they literally just finished exams before they are being eager to jump into learning new things, but give your mind and body time to rest and recuperate. Trust me, you will thank me when September comes and your feeling energised to start your degree.
Travel, Enjoy yourself and do things you have been longing to do!
This is going to be one of the longest summers you will have during your life, 3 months is ample to get yourself cultured and enjoy the amazing side of life. You dont have to spend 3 months backpacking in far flung places, but try and spend some time doing things you have always wanted to do. For me this was going on my first foreign holiday, and going to see once of the ancient wonders of the world, but thats not everyones cup of tea. Get yourself involved in a sport or take up a hobby you have always wanted to try, because this is the most free time you will have for many years to come: You would be crazy not to make the most of it.
Do some research about your university and course!
It is important to go into university prepared, so make sure you spend some time online looking at your accommodation, university, course and town/city. Being familiar with things will make the settling in period much easier and will also prevent the pre-move-in-panic. Make sure you know your term dates and you have a list of things you will be required for your course and accommodation to ease the strain when it comes to purchasing it all.
Get to grips with your finances!
Ensure you are aware of how much student finance you are entitled to, and add this to any extra income you may get throughout the year to start to build a budget for yourself. Its really important that your finances are sorted by the time you start freshers as it is then one less thing to worry about. Also once your offer has been confirmed get your student bank account open and dont forget to order a student rail card!
But what about the actual medicine stuff? Can I prepare for medical school academically? Should I be reading around? Which textbooks will give me a headstart?
I really strongly advise against doing any pre-reading for the course. Each medical school follows a different curriculum, and although we do end up with the same knowledge bank in the end, the way the degree is delivered and at what depth/pace is very different. If you jump into textbooks you can often go and overcomplicate things before starting, as not everything will need to be covered. My best advice is just leave that stuff till you begin, if you really want to start something then have a look over some basic human anatomy to familiarise yourself with the bodies systems, but I personally wouldn’t even recommend that. Do not get yourself bogged down before you even have begun, its better to go into medical school with a clear fresh mind than worry yourself over content in the summer.
So to sum it up, by advice is relax, enjoy yourself and dont worry to much about the actual content of the course. Enjoy the last long summer you will have!