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6 Tips for the School Nurse to get the most out of SUMMER!

Next year…it seems silly to be thinking about next school year here at the end of this school year. We have 3 days until we…well…until we don’t have to show up to the schoolhouses each morning. On the flip side, we have 70 days until we certified staff start a brand-new school year. But who’s counting, right?

This article will be less focused on how to survive the end of the school year, but more focused on maintaining your awesomeness during the summer. Let’s see what kind of rabbit we “catch” down this school nurse’s rabbit trail…

My first year as a school nurse was pretty rough up ‘til around the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Mainly because I was working as an on-call hospice nurse EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND and had pulled a solid 78-day stretch from day one to the first day off during the Thanksgiving break. But it wasn’t only that. It was the change. I hadn’t solidly sold myself on being a school nurse. By the end of the year, I figured out that being a school nurse was a pretty cool gig despite a solid year of ill and injured children, vision screenings, puberty talks, mad mammas, head lice, immunizations, and “other issues.” I knew that once I started my summer break, that life would start to really get hard. In all of my nursing career, I had never had so much scheduled free time; I had never even taken off a full two weeks during the previous 17 years when we weren’t relocating cross-country (that’s a whole ‘nother story).

The school year’s schedule gives me a system. And, that system works for me during the school year, but it didn’t work so well during the summer months. I had to prepare myself. The one question I now ask myself during the last week of school is this, “What thing (or things) in my life that I have worked hard to maintain will be in jeopardy once the scheduled school year turns into the freedoms of the summer?” My answer is usually: “My weight!”

When I worked hospice, I’d get up each morning and ride my stationary bicycle, go to work, eat at scheduled times, go to the gym in the early afternoon, and then finish my day on the far west side of the valley. As a school nurse, everything was the same except I’d just go to the gym after school. But then the summer came. I remember on that last day when the principal came by and said, “Nurse Kevin! What are you still doing here? Go home!” Everyone else had gone to after-school / end-of-the-year get-togethers (I couldn’t go…that weekend on-call gig got in the way…). It was then that I knew, come Monday morning, there was no reason to get up so early and ride, nor was there an after-school gym session to be done. There was no one holding me accountable for my day and the tasks that needed to…rather…should be done. It was all on me.

The summers for a school nurse are awesome! Tell me I’m lyin’! I garden, and when I say, “I garden,” I really mean it ( And we go on trips (mostly close day trips). And we cook. And we exercise. Despite the sun setting here in Southwestern Idaho late in the evening, the days still feel short. There’s never enough time to get all the things done we need to get done. We know this, but we still start our summer thinking we have so much time ahead of us. By the end of the summer, we’ll be asking, “Where’d all that time go?”

So, here’s the rabbit: A School Nurse’s Summer Survival List.

Survival Tip #1: Plan your summer out carefully. Don’t start off saying there’s plenty of time, because you know that’s not true. Day one of the 2019-2020 school year will come…heck-or-high-water…it’ll be here before you know it. If you don’t plan, you’ll blink your eyes, and it’ll be time to head back to school.

Survival Tip #2: Identify what things in your life that your scheduled school year promotes in your personal schedules. What I mean is: What do you do that makes you the awesome person you are? What is it that you do on a daily basis that’s “scheduled” off your school nursing schedule? Like my gym workouts. Would I go to the gym at 4 p.m. during the summer like I do during the school year? No way, Jose’!! I’ll likely have talked myself out of it by then. So, I have to find a “new” schedule that works with my open schedule of the summer weeks. Yours may not be weight. It may be reading, continuing education, volunteering, or 1,000 other things that we school nurses do when we are not being school nurses. These things are the things that make our lives hard when doing them but produce a positive effect in us that makes our lives so much easier. Don’t drop the ball.

Survival Tip #3: Grow something. This may seem like the first “tip” of a bunch of “tip-less” ideas that a blogger may use to take up space, so there’s more “tips” to read other than the first two. But, growing something…or somethings (like Nurse Kevin)…improves mood, relieves stress and anxiety, prolongs attention span (my wife says I need a whole lot more of that), and boosts self-esteem. There’s also a sense of accomplishment in September and October when you bring in produce to your co-workers or even a pumpkin or two to bring in for the kids at Halloween next year.

Survival Tip #4: Take a trip. ‘Cause, it’s gonna happen. There’s always that one who tells everyone about the fantastic trip they took to Zanzibar this summer, “That was just so incredible and fascinating. It just changed my life.” Yeah. We know who “that one” is. But, it’s true. Getting away from home helps us see more of the world around us, and, by the end of the trip, has us longing for and appreciating our homes even more. Take a trip anywhere…even if it’s a day trip with a camera, a camping trip in the hills or forest, or a trip around the world. (We’ve already planned a trip to Florida to see the grandbabies as well as a trip to Yellowstone [though in early October, during fall break]. We’ll also likely go up to Forks, Washington [again]. We love it up there…any of y’all from that area???)

Survival Tip #5: Cook something awesome…Every week. I love to cook. And, I love to cook on cast iron. My hobbies are pretty easy and tend to be family-oriented. And not on purpose, either. Cooking is one of those hobbies where I spend some time searching for a great recipe and practice cooking it. When I get a bunch of “Yummm”s and “Whoa! This is awesome!”s, and “I’m so full I am going to explode!”s, I have been rewarded for my efforts. Cooking is almost a perfect form of altruism. It’s a way to “care” for others’ needs (seems a lot like being a nurse). Only instead of giving the cares, we get to “share” in the “care” we’re providing. So, cook something good each week. I say, “each week,” as not to clash with Survival Tip #2 if your goal is to lose or maintain your weight so others don’t find themselves staring at your midriff come August. Now, I ain’t saying that cooking “good” always means eating “bad.” I can cook an amazing pot of cabbage that will knock your socks off at less than 300 fulfilling calories. However, each week…for one meal…cut loose! After all, “Fat is the river through which flavor flows.”

Survival Tip #6: Fill yourself up. A teacher brings a child into my office. It’s a simple thing; he needs a BandAid on his knuckle from a scratch that he got a week ago and has been picking at the scab. “Okay, tell Nurse Kevin ‘thank you’.” I don’t mind “thank you”s, but I never require them, and it always makes me feel a little uncomfortable. After all, they pay me for this job. I sure ain’t doin’ them a favor that is dependent on a “thank you.” But it’s what we do; we empty ourselves each school day. After 10 months of giving (emptying), we only have 2 months to fill back up for the next 10 months. What can you do to “fill up?” See Survival Tips #1 – #5.

Here’s what Nurse Kevin will be doing this summer to “fill up”:

  • Photography
  • Gardening
  • Raspberry Pi with my son
  • Pixel art with my son
  • A couple or three trips to Florida, Washington State, and someplace else (still thinking)
  • Writing (we’ll see how that goes)
  • Geocaching
  • Working on the house (seems like a chore if not for the finished result)
  • Learn one new skill
  • And, maybe build a barn (we’ll see about that)

All-in-all, do you know what’s crazy?? We’re about to get almost 10 weeks off from work. 10 weeks! There’s no other “kind” of nursing we could do that would give us so much time off (unless you were part-time somewhere…but then again…they’d always be asking, “Can you work on…” Or, “Can you do a double?” Or, “Can you be on call?”) Enjoy your summer…enjoy your freedom…enjoy life.

During the summer, Nurse Kevin will be posting here and there on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Probably not too many “Nurse-ey” posts. And, NO! There will not be a day-by-day count down to the start of the next school year. So, we’ll “officially” see y’all in 70 days…

Will Nurse Kevin post during the summer?? Gardening? Photography-ing? Cooking? What about nursing? Sign up for Nurse Kevin’s not-spammy, easy-sneezy newsletter and find out. We also do the Facebook thing…and the Instagram and Twitter things too.

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Nurse Kevin
Nurse Kevin is a school nurse who takes care of school children in Southwestern Idaho. Nurse Kevin authors content for many different websites including,,,,,

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