This post is fairly well-timed as I can imagine there are readers on here that will be starting medical school this coming fall, and there are many more that will be applying soon. This list could be a thousand items long, given unlimited resources, but let's be at least a little bit realistic (and practical). I am writing things down that are fun, and others that are pretty much necessary for a rising medical schooler. So without further ado, here are The Hero Complex's 5 things to do before starting medical school.
1) Travel to Another Country - This is number one on my list for a reason. Personally, I love traveling and always have/will, so I may be a bit biased. Let's be honest, for 99% of us, starting medical school means less freedom and disposable money. I think traveling is especially important for those going straight from college to medical school. I know that I never have felt more alive than I did during my almost 4 weeks in Europe.
2) Read A Book For Pleasure - Even if you never liked reading for pleasure, I am sure that you have at least a book or two on your "Must Read" list. Perhaps a classic like The Great Gatsby, or something fun like The DaVinci Code. Either way, take a few hours to actually get it done. Once medical school starts, your brain and eyes will probably be too tired to read for fun. It is one of the things I miss most about pre-med school life.
3) Establish Good Credit - A lot of very smart people are terrible with money. I think that good habits start young. By the time you start medical school, you should have a credit card or two. Note, I am not saying you should have credit card debt. I use my credit cards all the time in order to maximize rewards. I really like Discover credit card because the reward points can be used as money on Amazon purchases, and it was also the first company that accepted my credit card application back in high school.
Part of having good credit is responsibly having credit cards for long periods of time. Important things like buying houses and cars, or maybe even getting a job depend on credit scores. Might as well start the clock on that before starting medical school. It is free to apply!
4) Get in Shape - I wish that I had taken this advice myself. I was a mostly a lazy bum during the summer before medical school. I didn't start getting into shape until about four months ago and it was a brutal process. I should've just started medical school in shape, and maintained my body in good place all year long with maintenance workout routines. The extra confidence and energy from being in good shape is totally worth the effort. Basically do this before and after starting medical school.
Here is a pretty cool and quick full-body workout that requires little to no purchases.
5) Figure Out What's Important to You - A much more vague item on the list, but no less important. In fact, this may be the most crucial piece of advice I can give you all. Medical school is time consuming and a lot of work. It was quite a transition from undergrad, at least for me. Some of the things I had time for in the past went out the window once starting.
However, I truly believe that medical school is manageable. There is definitely time to do or be with what/who you love. You probably won't have time to do everything you want, but you will have time to do what is really important to you. Don't lose site of yourself and your priorities just because you have hundreds of powerpoint slides to memorize. Studying should be like a job to you, but not your life.