What should you do during winter break as a pre-med student?

September 4, 2020

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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What should you do during winter break as a pre-med student? You can choose to take this time to rest, or you can find some ways to take advantage of this break to further your future career as a healthcare professional.

At Global Pre-Meds, we offer you programs that help you make the most out of your winter break with doctor shadowing opportunities on hospital front lines and global health experience programs. Consider your options below and think about how you might want to spend your winter break as a pre-health student.


We know, we know, you’ve been studying all year. But studying is definitely an option during winter break as a pre-med student, because you can use this time to prepare for your college entrance exams or the MCAT. There are many resources out there with tips for premedical students studying for their medical licensing exams and other important hurdles. 

If you don’t have any major exams coming up you could spend these extra hours just learning more about the medical field. Listen to podcasts, read books, do research on different medical specialties or learn more about what it’s like to be a physician. It’s a good time to explore the many options you have. Whether you are a future doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner, there are many paths you can take.

For a more hands-on approach to learning, you could try to find a doctor to shadow.

Shadow a physician

Shadowing a doctor is one of the best ways to learn more about what it’s like working in a hospital and decide if medicine is the right career path for you. Job shadowing during winter break as a pre-med student can be highly beneficial to your career.

Many pre-health students utilize breaks to get their clinical observation hours that will ultimately be required for most medical schools. It’s never too early to start getting clinical experience.

Document all your hours of service and hospital experience for your future applications. It’s a good idea to ask the doctor you’re shadowing for a letter of recommendation. Make sure you ask them well in advance of when you might need it. 

If you choose to find a doctor near you to shadow over winter break, the best advice is to start asking early because healthcare workers are busy people. It may take some time for them to get back to you and there will likely be other pre-med students doing the same thing. We have some tips about the best ways to ask to shadow a doctor.

You can also find a pre-planned shadowing program to ensure that you’re getting the most out of the experience and avoid taking the extra time to find the appropriate mentoring doctor yourself.

At Global Pre-Meds we have already established partnerships with the best hospitals and doctors. We also take responsibility for your transport to and from your shadowing hours, and we keep you fed with delicious meals prepared by our chef. All the while, you stay at our famous Global Pre-Meds house with your peers, which means you’re having just as much fun as you are learning and preparing for your future.

It’s important for students interested in medicine to gain an understanding of what it’s like to be a physician. Shadowing a doctor is the best way to do that. It gives you the time to ask your questions and witness the day-to-day life of a healthcare provider. Shadowing a doctor over winter break allows you to fully focus and take advantage of the opportunity.

Volunteer at a hospital

Another way to gain clinical experience is to volunteer at a hospital or healthcare organization. This can be a valuable way to add extracurriculars to your medical school application and gain more experience in healthcare.

While not all volunteer experiences have to be health focused, it can be a good way to expose you to medical care in a different way if you choose to stay in that arena. Volunteering can show medical schools that you have experience working with different populations and that you’re committed to the well-being of others.

Be very careful when you are identifying a medical volunteering organization. You are not a licensed healthcare professional and should not be performing any duties outside your capabilities, and that includes treating patients of any kind. Breaking these ethical codes could jeopardize your career. Do your research and make sure if you’re volunteering at a hospital or healthcare facility that you are not performing any medical procedures.

Global Pre-Meds is a strictly observational learning program, and we are not a volunteer organization. We give you a perspective that you may not get at a hospital near you without putting you or any patients in harm’s way.

You should always check with the program you’re applying to and see what they’re looking for in terms of clinical hours. However, regardless of what will count towards your minimum hours, getting varied experiences can make you a better healthcare provider and more empathetic human being.

Finding ways to learn about different kinds of patients you will see in your healthcare career, through volunteering or observing abroad, can be a great way to diversify your resume and make your medical school application stand out.

Take a trip!

Some people like to travel on winter break, and we totally understand that. That’s another reason our Global Pre-Meds program is such a wonderful experience for students who are looking to take a trip abroad.

You can enjoy the views, food, and culture of another country while you gain medical insight at an international hospital. Not only do you get the experience of being in another country, but you get to meet other premed students from all over the world!

Some of our Global Pre-Meds programs have optional excursions that you can go on during your time off. You’ll be sure to experience more than the hospital with us.

You can read more about the benefits of our doctor shadowing programs here.