By Luke Murray
Congratulations! You matched! You now have before you a chunk of free time the likes of which you have probably not seen in years and will probably not see again for many more.
Yes, you’ve had summer vacation in the past, but you’ve always had something hanging over your head – research after first year, Step 1 after second year, Step 2 and residency applications after your third year…but now? Nada.
Sure, you need to move and get some logistics in order, but other than that, there’s no resume-padding activity required, no life-or-death test you need to be studying for – nothing. In order to help you think through your options and maximize the general awesomeness of this experience, I’ve put together three C’s you might want to consider:
Celebrate – This is the first word that comes to mind, and it might be the only one you can think of at the moment. The urge to party at this point rivals ‘I-just-finished-step-1’ intensity. But while I’m not against ‘going out’ with your classmates and friends, I’d like to suggest you open your mind to a bit more than a celebratory night on the town.
I have friends that went backpacking through Nepal, another group through Europe, and yet another that went to Hawaii to take pictures. These were vacations, true, but they were vacations of the ‘epic’ and ‘purposeful’ variety. Check something off your bucket list with those closest to you. Don’t just get drunk and veg out on some crowded, tourist-trap beach for the next two months.
Connect – I love my grandparents. They are almost 80 years old, but they are still taking care of foster children, working on their farm, and managing a family getaway in the mountains. They also have one of the most fun and solid marriages I’ve ever seen. I aspire to be like them when I grow up.
But they live three timezones away, in a tiny town called Weston, OR. The rest of my family is scattered throughout other parts of Oregon and Washington. I get to see them once a year, at most. So in between medical school and residency, I took three weeks and went on tour – making four different stops to visit each branch of the family individually. These were some of the most rewarding ‘visits’ of my life. It was a whole new experience to sit with them in their living room for a few hours in a row, hearing about their lives and sharing the struggles and triumphs of my own. I felt that I got to know and connect with them better in that one visit than I had in the past 10 years of “catching up” in the middle of a family reunion. Also, you never know when you’ll have the opportunity to connect purposefully like this again. That trip was the last time I got to spend time with my uncle. He passed away unexpectedly less than two months after I visited.
Create – I like to write, to play music, to sing, to grow ideas into companies. I did so little of that during medical school that I almost forgot that it used to be a big part of my life. I used to stay home on Friday nights during my senior year of high school because I was so caught up in playing guitar. I skipped the homecoming football game because I was busy washing golf balls I’d fished out of a local pond to sell. And I’d done almost none of this kind of stuff over the past several years of medical school. So, in addition to the “family tour,” I wrote about my time in medical school, jammed on my guitar, and worked down at the small business I’d helped start and then had to ignore during much of my medical career. What creative endeavors have you put down since medical school started? Pick them back up, and dust them off before you have to shelve them again for another half-decade.