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Life as a pre-medical student: Summer 'holidays'

vicky hargest medical pre-medical studentVicky Hargest continues to share her experiences as a pre-medical student. Here she describes how to make the most out of the summer break.

I naively thought that the summer holidays would be the calm after the storm that was end of year exams! It has been a while since I‘ve had a 13-week summer holiday so I was rubbing my hands together at the prospect of the sun drenched walks, lazy mornings and relaxing in the park with a good book. The reality has been somewhat different, but I do feel that I have made the most out of my time off.

Financing for a memorable summer

By the end of term my student loan had run out and unfortunately they don’t offer a ‘summer’ instalment. It was at this point I realised that I would have to earn some money if I were to have any chance of having a memorable summer. I started researching work opportunities a month before my exams and was lucky enough to secure some hours with my previous employer. I expected to be able to work for two or three weeks but found that once I had my foot in the door I was offered more and more hours.

I also signed up to work as a student ambassador at The University of Sheffield which allowed me to work on two week-long residential summer schools, the aim of which was to encourage 16 and 17 years olds to consider going to university. One of the summer schools was specifically for those interested in medicine which gave me the opportunity to talk about my experiences so far, but it also allowed me time to get to know medical students in the years above me. Although the weeks were tiring, they were very enjoyable and paid well too!

A rewarding rest and another opportunity

Having work solidly for the six weeks immediately after the exams, I decided to take a well earned break and headed to Mallorca for a short holiday mixed with rock climbing, late nights and some much needed relaxation. Some internet research and a little bartering made this a relatively inexpensive trip.

Once home I was lucky enough to secure another week’s work by becoming a Clearing and Confirmation helpline operator at the university. After 16 hours of paid training I was then experienced enough to deal with the students on A-Level results day and for the few days that followed.

The big trip!

With only five weeks remaining until the start of term I am now about to embark on the most exciting part of my summer holidays. I decided at the end of my exams that I would spend a month travelling.

Having done lots of reading I finally decided on Eastern Europe due to the interesting history, cheap flights and ease of travel between countries. I persuaded one of the medics from my course to travel with me and we are eagerly packing for our journey through the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Bosnia and Croatia. This promises to be the highlight of my summer holidays.

Top tips for a memorable summer

Students plan their holidays in different ways. Some need to work the entire summer to save enough money to see them through the following year; some choose to relax and party until the funds run out and then desperately seek work. I chose to work first so that I could be confident I would have enough money to pay for my travels and have enough saved to contribute to my living costs in the following months. Working so much also meant that I didn’t spend much money either!

If I were to offer advice I would recommend finding work early before other students snap it up, use any contacts you have, find out what the university has to offer and make a good impression with your employer so they invite you back. The summer holidays for medics get shorter and shorter so make the most of the long holidays while you can.

About Vicky

Vicky Hargest is a medical student at the University of Sheffield. Although she has an arts degree (health studies) she has taken the pre-med route (six year course) in order to learn foundation sciences.

She is the first in her family to enter higher education - proving that medicine is for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Having worked in medical education for the last six years she is now seeing things from the other side of the fence.

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