We’ve written before about the rewards and challenges of having a smartphone during school. They’re a reality of modern education, and one of the greatest benefits of them is the connection to loved ones they provide.
School is hard, especially for healthcare students. Whether you’re studying to be a Nurse or an OTA you’re going to feel bogged down at times from classes and externships, assignments and looming licensure exams. It’s natural to shut down and close up during those times, but that’s when you need your support network the most. You need to carve out time to keep in touch with your loved ones during school, and these 10 ways can help.
It can just be a simple, “Assisted with my first pediatric patient in clinical today!” before bed or “Test today: I’m nervous!” right when you wake up. Your friends and family want to hear how you’re doing, and a text can be the simplest and quickest way to relay information, especially when you’re busy. They’re also easy to copy and send to multiple people.
Don’t have time to sit and chat on the phone for half an hour every night? That’s student life. You don’t have to ignore your phone’s first purpose, though; you can still use it to call friends or your grandmother as you’re heading out the door, even while you’re picking up groceries. Healthcare students learn to multitask quickly, so use those skills for keeping in touch with your support network. Even if you miss them, you can leave a voicemail. Moms always love to hear your voice.
It’s possible none of us would remember anyone’s birthday without Facebook these days, but even if you log on to the social network every day with your phone, you’re likely to miss a lot of birthday news. At the start of every year (and/or now), make a list of your closest friends and family members, and set a calendar alert to tell you it’s their birthday. You might not have time to buy them a card, but you can still call or text, and keep in touch.
Letter-writing takes a lot of time, which explains why it’s a dying art these days. Few schedules allow for the time and focus required to write a long, detailed letter, but even healthcare students have time to churn out 2-3 sentences. At the start of every semester, assemble a stack of postcards and $0.35 stamps and keep them near your desk. When a friend comes to mind, write them a quick note and put it in the mailbox.
One of the best assets of any healthcare program is your peer group, in particular the cohort with whom you started your program. At Joyce and any healthcare school, there’s always a few classes of nursing, DLT, and MA students rotating through at different stages. Your cohort is always going through the same stage of classes, tests, and clinicals, which means if you’re struggling with something: They probably are too. Group messages on Facebook can be a great way to reach out, connect with and encourage each other, and remember you’re not alone in this.
See something in a store that reminds you of a friend? As the saying goes, “There’s an app for that!” Snapchat can be faster than texting, but it remains personal. Snap a photo and start a quick chat with your younger brother or old roommate. It may last 45 seconds, but it will keep you connected.
When you’re cramming for exams, you barely have time to eat, much less prepare a meal and feed friends, and student budgeting makes going out for meals a challenge. The solution: Set aside a day every month where you and a group of friends commit to dinner together. Every month, one of you cooks, which means you only have to face the hassle a couple of times a year. Every other month, even if you’re bogged down with projects, going to a friend’s apartment for dinner and reconnecting for a whole evening will bolster your spirits, which can empower you to study well.
Similar to phone call multitasking: Take your friends or roommates or classmates with you on errand runs. Some healthcare students prefer to be alone while grocery shopping, seeing it as a chance to decompress, but others need some human interaction after hours of studying alone. If you’re among the latter, text friends the morning you plan to head out to go shopping and see if anyone wants to join you. If they’re free, multitask to make the chore fun.
It’s hard to go weeks, sometimes months, without seeing family, but that’s the reality for a lot of healthcare students. With time scheduled down to the last hour, you may not be able to spend a weekend or, if they live close enough, afternoon with family members, but you can still see them thanks to programs like Skype, FaceTime, and Google+ Hangouts. When you’re drafting your schedule, be sure you include times to video chat with loved ones. It’s not quite the same as a real visit, but it’s a powerful way to keep in touch.
Remember in middle school, when you passed notes back and forth, filling pages with your conversations? You could argue that was proto-texting, but there’s something nice and special about sharing a document with just one or two close friends. Huffington Post recommends creating something like this together to maintain a long-distance relationship with a friend, being an interesting way to keep in touch, and a great keepsake.
There are literally hundreds of other ways to keep in touch with loved ones while you’re in school, from blogs and daily one sentence e-mails to book clubs, and watching the same series together. Whatever works for you to keep in touch while you study nursing, dental technology, or medical assisting, do it. Your support network is invaluable as you study toward your future career.