The Ingredients for a Balanced Nursing Student Summer

By Nursing Student Jennifer Lee

Freedom at last! As July 4th weekend passes, I’m feeling bittersweet about how fast the summer is going. This is my first summer since I officially began nursing school. I started my BSN program at the University of Iowa in January. The first semester was definitely challenging; it took a while to get adjusted to the new life I was going to be living.

Life as a nursing student is not the easiest-from balancing school, work, social life, to everything in between. But summer is here, and I’ve been truly enjoying this break. So what does one do when the routine of school days comes to a halt?

1. Get a Job

I started a new job this summer as a nursing assistant at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. I am part of the Intensive and Specialty Services float pool. There are about six different units in this department such as the Burn Treatment Center and Intermediate Care Unit and Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, just to name a few.

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This has been an awesome experience so far. During the first two weeks of orientation, we had class every day. The material has mostly been on topics we had covered so far in nursing school. I gained confidence knowing that I gained so much applicable knowledge prior to the BSN program.

Many of my friends in the BSN program are working as nursing assistants as well. I believe working in a hospital setting helps nursing students incorporate what they learned in the classroom into real-life situations. I have not started clinical practice and only worked with simulations my first semester. This is why I find it important to have a job where I am exposed to all of the things I have learned so far.

2. Get A Second Job!

I have another job! I have been working as a chiropractic assistant for about a year now. I love this job. I am in a smaller doctors office setting and usually work with one doctor a day. I have the luxury to get to know all of our patients on a first name basis. It is not as hands on as my nursing assistant job, but I am still exposed to patient care. I love the doctors I work with, whose compassion and love for their job is evident. So whatever you decide to do, whether it is being a nurse, physician assistant, doctor, chiropractor, or anything else in healthcare, having passion for your practice and compassion for your patients really shows and makes a difference.

3. Have Fun…Of Course!

I have been taking some time for myself as well. I volunteered at Bonnaroo Music Festival. This has been my 3rd year at the music festival, but my 1st time volunteering. It was such a different experience compared to the other years with many perks. I got to go inside the festival few days earlier, had free showers, (it is usually $7 for showers), and also met people from across the United States who were volunteering as well. As volunteers, we checked people in as they first came into the festival. As people would say, “Good vibes only.” This held true my entire time at the festival. Everyone was genuinely so happy to be at the festival, regardless of the hot scorching weather. My favorite performance would have been…okay, I cannot just name one artist. But I would say Kendrick Lamar, Bassnectar, and Hozier just to name a few. And I cannot forget Superjam when Run DMC and Chance the Rapper came out to perform throwback 90 songs. I’ll go ahead stop here because I can go on for days about how amazing my time was at Bonnaroo.

4. Make Time for Family

I have been spending lot of my free time in Chicago. Although I work in Iowa City, Iowa, I still take time to come home almost every week. I love everything about Chicago. There is always so much to do. I’ve been to couple little festivals such as the Gold Coast Art Festival and the Harbor fest. And again, I had the opportunity to meet some really cool people from all across the US.

So whether it is volunteering abroad, being a CNA, or having an internship in a healthcare setting, it is important to plan ahead to have a productive and meaningful summer that will benefit your career in the long run. But also remember to take time for yourself whether it is getting back into the hobbies you did not have time for during the semester, traveling, or taking time for family and friends.


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