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A Better Way to Get Rid of Your Nursing Student Loans OTHER Than Working Another Job

Social media recently tuned me into a great resource every nurse with loans should know about: Student loan repayment through volunteer work. SponsorChange is a non-profit committed to helping people repay their student loans.

Here's why it is a better option for you than working a second job to repay those loans.  And yes, I know many of you do.

1) Working more than three 12 hour shifts a week is bad for your health and your patients.

More and more research shows that 12 hour shifts are bad for you.  How come?  Let's think about it. The shift starts at 7am.  You're up at 5:30 or 6 so you can commute and get there on time unless you live within a short walk to your job, which most people do not in the US.  So your day really starts at 5:30am.

You work all day long and give report, which ideally means you finish report at 7:30pm and then you leave.  But that never happens right?  So, you stay to finish up everything and maybe get paid overtime for documenting on your patients and then say you get to leave around 8:30. By the time you leave work, you've already been up for 15 hours.  Then there is the commute home where maybe you get to come in, eat something, and then possibly go to bed.  What time is it?  I'd guess probably about 10:30 or 11pm.  Your day is now, at a maximum, 18 hours.

If you have to work the next day, you'll get at most 6 hours of sleep.  That's under what the latest sleep research recommends, which is 7 to 8.  Over time, this builds up and has physical and psychological health consequences. Don't believe it?  Look it up on PubMed.  I know you learned how to do that in your research class.

What if you make a mistake with a patient because you're sleep deprived?

What if that toxic personality working on your unit is that way due to years of sleep deprivation?

Think about it.

2) Volunteering will remind you about the importance of community health and keeping patients out of the hospital.

Seeing healthy people not at their worst, like they are in the hospital, can remind you about keeping that holistic perspective about patient health. Seeing people in communities and helping them with an activity that produces a more immediate result than what we normally see in a healthcare setting can be very rewarding.  And hey, if it helps pay off more of your student loans too, that's a bonus.

It also won't require 12 hours out of your week.

Something else to keep in mind.  Most US nurses work in hospitals, but the market is going to shift in the next 5 years. Inpatient care is going to involve only the sickest patients.  It is more cost effective to keep people in their homes and in the community. That's where the jobs will be. Your volunteer work could eventually lead to a different kind of nursing job or maybe back to graduate school.

3) If you keep volunteering for overtime, management has no incentive to hire the right number of staff for your floor.

Always working 1 or 2 nurses short?  Your manager or scheduler always asking if anyone wants to pick up extra shifts, and there are always lots of openings? That's the sign of a problem.  There's not a reason in the world why there should be lots of overtime options on your unit.  It's a sign of a problem manager who has lousy retention rates because of how they manage.  They think not hiring someone will make their budget numbers look good.

Totally not the case. Don't contribute to poor management practices by picking up extra overtime.  Your health and sanity aren't worth the extra money.

So think about your options before you take another job or pick up all those extra shifts.  There are better ways to repay your student loans.


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