The PremedHQ Guide


How to Spend Your Summers as a BS/MD Applicant

10 weeks of vacation! Deciding how to spend your summers can be hard. Take some well-deserved time to relax, but also be sure to use your time effectively. Summers are the best time to learn more about your field of interest and develop your skills. Even if you are not sure you will be applying to BS/MS programs, it is best to be prepared and showcase yourself as a strong applicant for both BS/MD programs and college in general. In order to do so, here are some general rules to follow:

  • Make sure to do medically relevant things that still can show who you are as a person (ie. someone who starts a needle recycling program for the homeless/impoverished can talk about how they hope to serve an underrepresented community as a doctor because of this experience)

  • Never do things that you are not interested in. If you spend large chunks of time doing things that do not excite you, you will be unable to talk or write about this experience to a potential program or interviewer, and will therefore diminish your chances of getting into these programs. Find something that is a good fit for you overall as a person, as well as what is feasible and practical for you.

  • As you engage in these experiences, ask yourself what you are learning from the process and activity in general. Do you have anything tangible to show for it? Will a professional provide you with an eye-catching recommendation? If your achievement cannot easily be quantified, could you elaborate upon how it affected you/your ambitions to be a doctor overall?

Moreover, a good general rule of thumb is to start out your 9th or 10th grade summers broadly to make sure medicine is something you are actually interested in. Shadowing/volunteering in a hospital are good ways to get exposure to the field of medicine. As you continue throughout high school, you can narrow your area of interest to show how your passion has developed. Starting a medically relevant non-profit and conducting research are some examples that show a concentrated medical interest. In order to differentiate yourself as a great applicant as opposed to a mediocre one, make sure to connect these experiences in your personal statement or program supplement. A common theme of “Why Medicine” and how these activities all connect and contribute to that are important.

Here are some activities completed by competitive and successful BS/MD applicants that you can experiment with:

-Shadowing at a hospital

-Volunteering at a hospice center

-Take college classes 

-Conducting research at a summer program such as Boston RISE, UCSB RMP, COSMOS. (See our list of summer programs for more potential summer research programs)

-Conducting research at a local university under a professor or professional mentor (Email several professors and see if any return your inquiries with potential lab openings)

-Start a nonprofit

-Become politically active for medical NGOs or within local governments’ health policy

-Medical missions

-Become EMT certified/CPR certified/Pharmacy technician certified and potentially work in these fields (depending on your age and state of residence)


This list is a good starting point for you to decide what is best for you. However, if after reading this list you feel as though you want to do something different, there is nothing wrong with that. Be creative! Being different can be a good thing as long as you continue to portray your passion for medicine with a clear indication of how your summer activities foster that. Have fun with it!