Summer is finally here! School is out, and it’s time to kick back, relax, and enjoy your time off—as well you should, having spent the last eight months owning it at 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 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 serve as a foot in the door for when you graduate as a Registered Nurse.

2. Job Shadowing

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.

(For more information about job shadowing, see my article here.)

3. 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 this summer, doing a few questions every day or even every week will help to keep your mind sharp and to review the concepts you’ve learned over the last year.

4. Continuing 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 some you can work through at your own pace. Furthermore, check out if your local community college offers healthcare-related continuing education or a summer course that could apply toward furthering your degree.

5. Read

Check out your local library for books on nursing history, heartwarming stories of nurses making a difference, and the latest in medical research. Consider subscribing to a nursing magazine or medical journal for monthly or bimonthly articles of interest. And of course, be sure to browse all the coolest nursing blogs! (May I recommend

6. Road Trip!

Why not make the most of your summer vacation by combining vacationing with nursing history? Visit some place in your area or 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.


It is possible to have a rewarding summer vacation while still not completely neglecting your studious nurse side. Just by choosing a few of these suggestions, you are well on your way to a fun yet educational summer.


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