Everyone always says the summer between your first and second year of medical school is “the last summer break you’ll ever have”, so spend it wisely! There are a couple of options to pick from when thinking about how to spend this last chance summer.
- Do nothing. Chill, relax, travel, enjoy your family and friends- TBH this is much needed after your first year in medical school. If not the whole summer, at least take a nice mini vacation. First year of medical school wore me out so taking some time to relax is a great idea.
- Shadowing/Primary Care Internship- At my school, many students apply for a program called “AHEC” during the summer. AHEC is a paid summer primary care elective. It gives medical students the chance to work in a primary care setting with a primary care doctor/mentor. AHEC introduces students to healthcare professions and encourages healthcare professionals to practice in rural and underserved communities. So basically, you get to work in an underserved community for the summer, gain experience, interact with real patients, and get paid.
- Summer Research- Since this is what I chose to do, I will go into more detail about this option!
There are many ways to get involved in research and summer research. During the beginning of the Spring semester, our professor/faculty research coordinator sent us a list of nationwide summer research opportunities. There weren’t many I was interested in, but I applied to the few that I did find appealing. Unfortunately, I did not get accepted to any of them. None. LOL, I was salty at first, but I knew something better would come along. Sometimes things just aren’t meant for you.
Most of the time, your medical school offers a summer research program like mine! I applied to the summer research program sponsored by my medical school. There were limited spots, but I was accepted. YAY! I honestly did not want to stay home for the summer, but this was a great opportunity. Following my true feelings, I continued to search for summer research elsewhere. I looked everywhere from NYU in NYC to Miller School of Medicine in Miami. I applied, but wasn’t too excited about what I was finding. But then I decided to google “Dermatology Summer Research” since I haven’t had much exposure to dermatology yet besides a 2-day preceptorship which was AMAZING.
The first result that popped up: UCSF Summer Dermatology Fellowship for Medical Students. Omg I was so excited, but was quickly discouraged when I saw they were only accepting 2 applicants. TWO out of everyone in the US… TWO?! As if dermatology isn’t competitive enough. I immediately thought, I’m not about to get this… why even waste my time. I spent a couple days thinking about it, and finally decided to just go for it. I mean, I had nothing to lose… only to gain!
I had to reach out to UCSF research faculty to secure a research mentor before even applying. I emailed about five of them, and not one responded. A couple weeks went by… still no response. At this point I’m like, “well let me go on ahead and accept the research offer at my medical school…” Four weeks went by and something told me… pick the research mentor you’re most interested in and email them again.. ONE MORE TIME. So, I listened to the little voice and did just that. At this point, it is a little more than 1 week before the deadline. I emailed her once again, and got a reply in less than 30 minutes. She replied “Yes Chelsi, I would love to work with you this summer.” (As you may know or will learn, physicians can be very short lol but I’ll take it.) THANK YOU GOD!!
Since it was only 1 week before the deadline, I had to scrabble everything together like a maniac. I got my CV, personal statement, letters of rec, AND research proposal all together in 4 days (on top of having shelf exams to study for!). I stayed up until like 3 am for the last two days trying to get it all done. But at the end of the day, IT GOT DONE. Special thanks to some of my friends for helping proofread and edit(Twins, Zack)… side note: get you some good friends. I am so thankful for mine!
Fast forward to 1 day before the deadline, I sent everything in and then I waited… but I waited with intention. I believed in myself, I imagined myself receiving the acceptance letter, and I even started looking for apartments in San Francisco. Three weeks later, I receive the following:
Congratulations! You have been selected as a recipient of the UCSF Department of Dermatology Medical Student Summer Research Fellowship. Your research proposal will be funded for an 8-week fellowship period.
Now, I am blessed to say, I am writing this from San Francisco during my mini research break. Here are a couple takeaways:
- You must put the work in, don’t expect anything to be handed to you.
- NEVER count yourself out. Be confident!
- Always apply yourself, because you never know what can happen! You already lost the battle if you don’t even try.
- Lastly, trust God and trust the process. Don’t get discouraged by temporary defeats.
P.S Look out for my future post regarding the details of my fellowship here!