Nursing school is a busy time! You learn and grow more than you thought possible, but you have little time for anything else. Many of us come to nursing school with a full plate. I was a mother of two, and though working part-time as an LNA in school would have given me an edge later, I didn’t have time for that!
However, I did find some creative ways to pad my resume in nursing school that took a lot less of my precious study time and looked great on scholarship applications to boot! Consider some of these options, especially during your summer break. You won’t regret it!
1. Volunteer for a crisis hotline.
Find a local domestic violence or mental health advocacy organization and contact them about volunteering. Training is usually done over one or two weekends, and then you cover shifts from home while studying! You may only need to take a couple of shifts a month. You may get one call a shift or a bunch! When calls do come in, it’s an opportunity to help a client in crisis and to practice safety assessments. Often, the most helpful thing you can do is just listen.
When it comes time to apply for jobs, the 15-30 hours of focused mental health training and the many hours of volunteer work will really make you stand out as a new grad!
2. Be a hospice volunteer.
This is rewarding opportunity that involves minimal time and gives you direct patient contact with the geriatric population. You will participate in approximately 30 hours of training on death and dying, and then you are matched with a client or two that you visit for an hour a week. You won’t be “sitting vigil” with people as they die unless you want to do further training. Instead, volunteers usually visit people with end-stage Alzheimer’s and Dementia and talk to them so they aren’t alone in their final months.
The visits are usually in nursing homes, so it really increases your exposure to this environment, allowing you to see how things operate here and how the care is given. You will also make contacts for references when you apply for jobs!
Note: As a hospice visitor, be careful not to help with feeding or adjusting nasal cannulas or anything nursing related at all. This can be difficult.
3. Help others in the A&P lab.
Ask on your campus if they hire students to work in open lab sessions. This way you can actually make a little money doing this once or twice a week in the evenings! You don’t have to know everything, because these are just open study sessions. You only have to be willing to help students with their own studying and review. This is great because you end up reinforcing your own knowledge in the process.
With these three tactics, I applied for and received numerous scholarships throughout nursing school and also was given an award for community service. Together, these made me a much more interesting new grad applicant upon graduation, despite the fact that I had no “professional experience” in the medical field!
Get creative and see what opportunities you can find that will maximize your time in nursing school!
By Carolyn Mallon