COVID-19: News, Information, Resources, & Opportunities to Support

Skip to main content

Penn Nursing Diaries: A Day in the Life--George Yang

What’s it like to be a current undergraduate at Penn Nursing? Think little sleep, rushing to class and clinicals, and constant commitments. Sound familiar? We asked three juniors to keep track of their days so that you know what it takes to keep up with them.

George Yang, Penn Nursing/Wharton Dual Degree Student


5:45 A.M. Climb down slowly from the top bunk of the bed. I fell off a couple weeks ago, and since then, I’ve been especially wary of the edge. My roommate, D., wakes up; he’s a really light sleeper. “Bye, George,” he waves. “Bye D,” I say as I leave the apartment.

6:00 A.M. Today’s breakfast is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich— with a banana—for the walk.

6:20 A.M. I’m speed walking to clinical at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Throw the banana peel in a nearby trashcan. Keep my strides long.

6:55 A.M. “Any questions?” asks W., my clinical instructor.

7:10 A.M. Get a report from the nurses on the GI surgery floor. Taking one look at my small handwriting, the nurse I’m shadowing laughs. I make a mental note to work on improving the way I write down notes from report.

8:30 A.M. We sit down in the preconference room and present our patients: what medications they’re on, what conditions they have, and the pathophysiology of those conditions. My patient, a frequent visitor of the hospital, has had recurrent small bowel obstructions.

9:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M. The day is generally going smoothly. My patient, however, was in pretty intense pain (9 out of 10) for a few moments, so I rubbed his back and looked around the supply closet for some aromatherapy, but couldn’t find any.

12:00 P.M. Since it’s our last official day, our post-conference is not as involved. Typically it would be prioritization games, education about the importance of maintaining contact precautions, and videos about speaking up when we see breaks in aseptic technique, but today we make light conversation. I appreciate the 12th floor’s view of the Philadelphia skyline.

Credit: Photo by Sean Legg, a Penn Nursing undergraduate. 1:00 P.M. Waving goodbye to my classmates, I’m off to corporate finance class. Grab a salad and go to the forum level (basement) of the Huntsman building. Finance homework is due today, and graphs have to be printed on paper. I also want to rewrite my homework, because I wrote it on scratch paper before. But, I spend too much time eating my salmon salad, so I staple together the scratch paper and hope that the TA will forgive me for my messy work.

1:30 P.M. Walk up to class on the first floor of the Huntsman building. My assigned seat is in the back, and I get out a blank sheet of printer paper.

1:30 P.M. – 2:30 P.M. The lecture is about options. (i.e. you get the “option” to buy the stock at a certain fixed price, even if the price changes in the future). The professor keeps making analogies to college applications, comparing things like Early Decision and Early Action to financial options. I really like the professor, since he reminds me of the dad in Pixar’s Despicable Me. He often acts tough on us, but he’s kindhearted and answers all our questions patiently. After class, I make a mental note to borrow someone’s calculator for the final exam; I’ve been using an online calculator the entire semester, but I have to make sure I have a graphing calculator for the final.

2:50 P.M. Let out of finance class, I quickly rush to discrete math class. Since it’s all the way across campus, I have to use my “don’t be late for morning clinical” speed walk pace. My soleus muscle starts aching after the speed walk across Locust to the David Rittenhouse Laboratory.

3:05 P.M. Make it to class (a little late), and quietly let myself in through the back door.

3:05 P.M. – 4:20 P.M. Class is about apportionment systems (i.e. how to distribute out representatives to states in our political system). We prove that something called the “Quota Method” for apportionment is the most fair method of giving out representatives because it satisfies a few mathematical properties (not to be described here). Unfortunately, we don’t use this system currently because doling out representatives has been pretty low on the political agenda for most people over the last 200 years.

Credit: Photo by Sean Legg, a Penn Nursing undergraduate.4:20 P.M. Stay after class to talk to the professor and a Chinese international student friend about how the last part of the proof works.

5:00 P.M. Walk to Ormandy, the music library in Van Pelt’s 4th floor to get some quiet time to myself. Typically I work here as work study, but today I’m just a visitor. I take a look at my schedule, and remember that I have a meeting today with a Penn alumna who currently works in health care that I signed up for. My email says it’s business formal, which means…

5:40 P.M. Speed walking back home.

5:55 P.M. Iron my shirt (haven’t worn it since the beginning of the semester) and some pants.

6:15 P.M. Speed walking to Bernie’s Restaurant & Bar for the meeting, around Sansom and 36th.

6:30 P.M. It’s a three-course meal with turkey; oh my goodness.

6:30 – 8:30 P.M. The alumna talks about her experience in Teach for America, and how much more scary teaching is compared to health care consulting. She also recommends a book—The Fix, by Michael Massing, which is a book about the war on drugs. I’ll have to check it out from the library some time. I’ve been on the fence with consulting for the past couple years, but whatever I do longterm, I’m pretty set on working as a bedside nurse once I graduate.

8:30 – 9:30 P.M. The Undergraduate Assembly has a meeting at one of the members’ homes, and we are treated to pasta. B., who is the head of the committee, talks about all the kinds of hot sauce he brought. We briefly chat about our projects this semester. I’m doing something to help improve prison education as well as some work with the library.

9:30 P.M. Strolling back home, I realize I’m pretty exhausted.

9:40 P.M. After I enter our apartment, D. says he has a present for me. “What?” I raise my eyebrows. But when I see it, I laugh. It’s a smart watch, which is an inside joke between us: D. had really wanted me to decrease the sound of my morning alarm for clinical. Naturally fearing being late for clinical, I had refused. He had then joked that he would buy me a watch that vibrates, so that I wouldn’t have to use an audible alarm on my phone. I thank him and apologize for my waking him up this past semester.

10:00 P.M. Help D. edit one of his scholarship applications. He studies computer science, so it’s sophisticated writing. I don’t understand it—which I tell him. “Are the judges going to be computer science specialists?” He looks to the side. “No, but hopefully they’ll understand.” I convince him to revise his essay to be more easy-to-read.

10:30 P.M. I brush my teeth, climb up my bunk bed, and go to sleep.