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Summer is officially in session—now what?

Shutterstock | Antonov Roman
Shutterstock | Antonov Roman

With summer in full swing, it’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy your time off—as well you should, having spent the last eight months working on physical assessment, disease processes and care plans. But maybe you also want to spend some time making sure you don’t lose all those important skills and critical thinking abilities you worked so hard to acquire. Here are some ways to stay fresh over the summer and be ready to tackle the upcoming semester.

1. Work as a nurse’s aide. There are few things as valuable as on-the-job experience. Working in a nurse’s aide position as a student nurse will grant you more time at the bedside. You will become more confident talking with patients, gain more experience with basic technical skills, and have the opportunity to observe and talk to nurses on a regular basis. In addition, working as an aide can be a foot in the door for when you graduate as a registered nurse.

2. Find a job to shadow. If working as a nurse’s aide doesn’t fit your schedule, consider job shadowing as an exciting alternative. Simply by asking, you have the opportunity to shadow nurses and other medical professionals in a variety of settings. This allows you to explore employment options for when you graduate, as well as to pick the brains of your fellow nurses.

3. Keep up with NCLEX practice questions. Never underestimate the value of practicing NCLEX questions! Buy yourself a review book or sign up for a daily NCLEX question to be delivered to your email. Although doing more NCLEX questions is probably the last thing on your mind now that summer is here, doing a few questions every day or even every week will help to keep your mind sharp. It’s a smart idea to review the concepts you’ve learned over the last year.

4. Continue your education. Taking a class is a great way to keep your mind working over the summer. There are many free MOOCs (massive open online courses) available on healthcare-related topics. You can take these courses from the comfort of your own home, and you can work through some at your own pace. Check if your local community college offers healthcare-related continuing education or a summer course that could apply toward furthering your degree.

5. Read! Go to your local library for books on nursing history, the latest in medical research and heartwarming stories of nurses making a difference. Consider subscribing to a nursing magazine or medical journal for monthly or bimonthly articles of interest.

6. Take a road trip. Why not make the most of your summer vacation by combining vacationing with nursing history? I’m planning a trip that includes a stop at the Columbus Museum of Art’s exhibit “Shine On: Nurses in Art.” Visit someplace in your area, or in the place where you plan to vacation, that is significant to nursing history or that is celebrating the achievements of nurses.

7. Treat yourself. Don’t forget the value of taking a mental break. Do something to treat yourself—you’ve earned it! Take a spa day, read that novel that’s been sitting on your shelf, go to a bed-and-breakfast for the weekend with your significant other, dedicate some time to a hobby you’ve been neglecting…take some time for YOU.

How are you planning to have a rewarding summer vacation without neglecting your studious nurse side? Drop your suggestions in the comments section!

Bolana Fuge-Hary is a full-time nursing student at a community college and runs a nursing-school-related blog here

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