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5 ways nursing students can stay productive over summer break


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Summertime! It’s that time of the year that your body and your brain take a vacation, quite literally. Unfortunately, I was one of those students who attended classes during the warm summer months. My first bout of schooling was an accelerated 18-month diploma program; no summer break there. When I went back for my BSN, I STARTED in the summer. And finally, my MSN program ran straight through the year.

So as a student, I can’t say I knew what it felt like to get that brain break. Although maybe it wasn’t that bad of a deal? I didn’t have to worry about that absenteeism phenomena: “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” It’s very real…especially in nursing where there is didactic and kinesthetic learning.

I do, however, remember that feeling I would have between semesters. That long winter break always brought that spring semester “new year” stress, when I would realize I had forgotten everything we learned the previous fall and would frantically go review. If I had the entire summer off…whew!

Here are five productivity tips to stay on the ball while you’re out of school.

Catalog what’s important

  • When the semester ends, think about what you want to keep, what you absolutely need and what you can send down the trash bin. Throughout your nursing school career you are going to accumulate a lot of information, and quite honestly, there WILL be material and content that simply will not have relevance as you progress forward. Most of the time, your instructors and professors will give you some hints and clues as to what you NEED to know and what is required for the upcoming semesters. Pay attention.

Keep it readily accessible

  • Stay organized, even when the semester ends. Don’t go jumping into your carefree summer without consciously storing your school content, supplies and accessories. Even organizing all of your nursing equipment and uniforms now will go a long way when the summer is over and you’re getting your ducks in a row for that fall semester.

Utilize the Internet

  • I’m not saying you should be a nerd (like I was) and do your own independent research on topics that interest you, but you could utilize the Internet as a resource. Something as simple as visiting social networking sites could help you in the long run. Heck, maybe there are opportunities for employment out there for you when you graduate that are being posted now? Chance favors the prepared mind.


  • What new skills did you learn over the past semesters? Is it anything you can practice? If you have a blood pressure cuff, for example, you could practice taking blood pressures on your family or friends. Have you mastered all the mathematical calculations required for drip rates and conversions? What about medical terms? How about ABGs? The possibilities are endless.

Misery loves company

  • At the end of the day, surviving nursing school is only possible with the help of your classmates. You’ve probably figured this one out already. I’m SURE that you’re friends on one of the social networks, or maybe you live close enough that you can visit. In either case, why not chat a bit about school? Besides, if you’re like all the other nurses in the world, all we ever talk about is work and work-related humor. You might as well start early.

In the end, you really should enjoy your summer. You’ve earned the break. Take the summer to reset, recharge and revive. Just be sure you don’t wake up in August in a complete panic wondering what in the world you learned months ago. A good nurse is always prepared.

How do you stay on your toes during the summer? Share your tips in the comments below!

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