Summer Adventure 2011

It’s hard to believe my summer started over a month ago. I have to be back to studying in two months! I need to cram as much fun and relaxation as possible into these two months.

So what does a med student like myself do with a summer off? Research, shadowing, work? Nah, not for me, at least nothing too substantial. After a nine months of studying I need an adventure, so that’s what my wife and I are doing. IMG_0699

We road tripping throughout the west side of the country, planning on seeing as many national parks as possible. Right now we’re hanging out in Portland for a few days, but soon we will leave for Crater Lake, the Redwoods, Yosemite and beyond. It’s going to be awesome.

Other than that I’m going to spend the summer seeing friends and family, reading, writing (like that e-book I talked about) and biking. Here are the books on my reading list so far:

Finish Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. I think I started this book last fall, so it has taken me about a year to finish. Dense reading at times but so far it is worth it. The book is a fascinating attempt at reconciling art and science. That description does not do the book justice.

The Children’s Hospital by Chris Adrian. I listened to an interview with Adrian on NPR and was intrigued.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I’ve read a lot of Steinbeck, but not this one.

Hopefully I’ll finish a few more besides these.

Here are a few pictures from the travels we’ve done already:

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Dog Mountain near Portland:

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Ahh, summer is great! What are your plans?

5 Powerful Summer Goals For Pre Med Students

Congratulations on finishing the school year! Here are some simple yet powerful goals to work on during the summer.

    Relax
    While it’s natural to want to avoid boredom during the summer, being just as busy as during the school year defeats the purpose of a break. The summer between my sophomore and junior year of college I worked 20 hours a week and took a full year of Anatomy and Physiology. It was terrible. At the end of my Junior year I was burnt out. Do not do this. Find time to relax, read some good books, go on a vacation and give that brain a little well deserved rest.
    Get Medical Experience.
    Volunteer at a non-profit clinic, clean rooms in a hospital, shadow your family physician or try to find a job as an ER Scribe. The point is not to bolster your application but rather to better understand medicine and to be sure it is the right path for you.
    Find A Mentor.
    I wrote about this a while back. Mentors can challenge and inspire you. One mentor I met with has gone on over 30 medical mission trips (recently returning from Haiti). Talking with him always reminded me why I wanted to go into medicine. Take the summer to think about who might best mentor you and respectfully ask them.
    Read Medical Blogs.
    There are excellent physician and medical student blogs out there. It’s a great way to get an unfiltered perspective on medicine from the eyes of those actually practicing it. A few of my favorite are ER Stories, Vitum Medicinus, KevinMD, Med School Memoir, Agraphia and Jae Won Joh.
    Reflect.
    Take some time to think about the past school year. What study habits worked for you? Is there a subject that particularly interested you that you may want to do some research on? What were the highs and lows of the year?
    After reflecting on the past year, take some time to consider the coming school year. If you want to bump up your GPA, what grades will you have to get in your classes to meet your goal? If you’re going to take the MCAT, what is your ideal score? How can you simplify your life to reduce stress?

Working on these simple goals over the summer will help you have a great start to the next year. Do you have any other goals for the summer?

18 Ideas for an Enjoyable Summer

Summer break has either started or is coming very soon for you. Here are 18 ideas to take advantage of your free time during the summer. Some have to do with being pre med, but most are just about enjoying life!

Start a blog. It’s fun, everyone and their mom does it, why not you?

Read. Fiction, nonfiction, comic books. It doesn’t matter. Just pick your favorite spot and relax.

Build something with your hands. It can be very satisfying.

Take a class. Don’t take a full year of A&P over the summer though, trust me, it sucks.

Volunteer. Medical, non-medical, just make sure it’s something you’re interested in.

Play Ultimate Frisbee.

Run a Marathon.

Start a Happiness Project.

Simplify your life. Get rid of things you do not use or need. Talk less, listen more.

Plant a garden. Healthy and fun.

Do some soul searching. Ask yourself, “Is my life going in the direction I want it to? Am I maturing as a human?”

Go camping and roast marshmallows.

Go on a bike tour.

Buy a Lonely Planet Guide to your city or state and explore places you’ve never been before.

Write a letter to yourself and do not open it for a year, or five.

Backpack. Anywhere, just make sure you’re only surviving with what you’re carrying.

Do a research project.

Take a vacation. You deserve it, right?

Share some of your ideas in the comments below!