5 - 7 Ways Your Pre-Health Student Can Make the Most of Winter Break

Career Administrator

If your student is preparing for a future career in clinical health professions, you can expect they just completed an intense semester of coursework and extracurricular commitments. They are finally in the home stretch and will need the next month to rest and rejuvenate! If you are wondering how you might encourage them to maximize their time during winter break, here are several suggestions to consider:

Begin seeking summer plans

Exposure to valuable experiences in the field of healthcare is essential to a student’s exploration of the profession as well as for application to a health professional program. Admissions committees want to see applicants who explored their chosen health profession and know why it is the right fit for them. It's not too early to seek out and apply for summer positions or programs - some of which have January – March application deadlines. Encourage your student to begin by using this resource as a guide for their search!

Read for fun.

Your student undoubtedly completed pages upon pages of required reading all semester long, so break is a great time to read something just for them. It doesn't have to be related to healthcare! But if they're looking for book recommendations for aspiring healthcare professionals, check out our book list. We'd love for them to find other recommendations too and share about what they're reading on social media with #prehealthoosread.


Reflect on why they are pursuing a career in the health professions. One essential question when writing a future personal statement or interviewing at a professional school is "why X health profession?" It is important to have a specific and personal response. If a student’s initial answer is "I like science and helping people," we encourage them to dig deeply into their experiences and reflect on specific reasons they are motivated to pursue this path. Perhaps encourage your student to keep a journal or written document about their experiences, where they can express what is most meaningful and significant to them.

In fact, we think this is so important – we recently published be well: a journal for aspiring health professionals at UVAIf your student would like a copy, please encourage them to make a pre-health advising appointment next semester and let us know!


There are many opportunities to get involved in the community, especially around the holidays, such as volunteering at a food bank or sorting donations. Your student does not necessarily have to look solely for health-related opportunities to find a valuable and meaningful experience!

Relax and recharge

Take a step back and take a break from pre-health related activities. Encourage your student to sleep in, spend time with family and friends, catch up on a TV show, or anything else that will help them start the New Year and new semester strong and motivated. Finding a balance is an essential skill that will help them be successful in the short-term for their undergraduate academic career, as well as in the future as a healthcare professional.

Prepare for the Application Process

If your student is preparing to enter the 2018-19 application cycle for a health professional program, they may also find winter break a great time to get started on a few aspects of the application process:

  1. Brainstorm topics and formulate a draft personal statement. Formulation of a personal statement requires a lot of reflection, so hopefully the down time over winter break will offer your student the head space they need to get started. Here are some tips to help them begin! 
  2. Learn about the application process. The application process for each health profession is a time-consuming endeavor. It's helpful to become familiar with application components before they open in the summer. Encourage your student to explore the Application Process section of the Pre-Health website for their health profession of choice. Pre-Health Advisors will also hold Application Meetings for each health profession in late January, so encourage your student to keep their eye out for specific dates and times in their Handshake account calendar!