Skip to main content

Penn Nursing Diaries: A Day in the Life--Nia Akins

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.

Nia Akins, Penn Nursing Student Athlete

5:50 A.M. After already hitting snooze once, that lovely high-pitched relentless beeping emits from my alarm clock and personally attacks my peaceful state of slumber again because, evidently, the first time was just not enough.

5:51 A.M. Officially get out of bed put on my running shoes and a headband. (Side note: I think I’m brilliant because I cleverly sleep in my running clothes. Saves time.)

6:00 A.M. Descend stairwell into kitchen to eat a piece of bread and one bite of a banana. Step outside to start my run.

Credit: Photo by Sean Legg, a Penn Nursing undergraduate. 6:15 A.M. Run down Spruce Street to the track locker room in Franklin Field to stretch in a warm space and remove an extra layer because I’m kinda toasty now. Continue run down South Street and onto the river.

7:15 A.M. Finish up and return home. Put the remainder of the banana along with frozen fruit, kale, protein, almond milk, and 1⁄3 of an EmergenC packet into my blender. Use a towel to muffle the sound of blender so I don’t wake up the roomies :)

7:20 A.M. Shower!

7:30 A.M. Drink smoothie while preparing for the day. It’s the best kind of day because I wear scrubs!!! I also make real breakfast (scrambled eggs with tofu, tomatoes, spinach, and feta cheese), lunch, and dinner.

8:20 A.M. Finally eat that breakfast I prepared earlier. But first I sprinkle Ol’ Bay on top— don’t judge until you try it! It is the seasoning of choice in my house.

8:49 A.M. Leave for class with two fellow nursing roommates and walk into the infamous three-hour Med-Surg lecture in Fagin right on time at 9am.

9:05 A.M. Ooooh…Bowel and Bladder is the topic for today. Really interesting topic, especially when you’re an athlete, drink pints of water, and need to desperately go to the bathroom.

10:20 A.M. Alas! Break time. Rush down to the first floor of Fagin to find (despite my athletic background) I am the fifteenth person in line for a bagel.

10:22 A.M. Still waiting in line for my bagel, taunted by the million other treats in the glass window of the cafe.

Credit: Photo by Sean Legg, a Penn Nursing undergraduate. 10:27 A.M. Spend my trillionth dollar at the wonderful Fagin Cafe on a banana quinoa muffin and return to lecture.

11:50 A.M. The lecture ends. I pack my stuff up and waltz one classroom over, where Intro to Nursing Statistics will begin in one hour.

12:00 P.M. I do my stat homework while eating lunch.

1:00 P.M. Stat begins. It’s just ANOVA day in paradise here ;)

2:21 P.M. Stat ends and I walk over to Rhoads 6 at the Hospital of University of Penn (s/o to advising for first choice for clinical, couldn’t have done it without you!) to pick up my patient assignment for the next clinical day and work on Prep Tool. Rhoads 6 is a liquid oncology unit, and happens to be the discipline of nursing I would like to work in after graduating.

2:50 P.M. Begin to sweat because my patient has more drugs than I have nephrons and I have approximately ten minutes to finish my patient look-up.

2:55 P.M. Stop meticulously studying my patient’s chart and begin ferociously copying and pasting things into my prep tool for the next five minutes until I need to log out and head over to Franklin Field for practice.

3:05 P.M. Breeze into the locker room smiling because I just set a personal record for getting from Rhoads 6 to Franklin Field. It’s the little things! I change into running clothes.

3:10 P.M. This is my second favorite thing about Mondays (keep reading for my first favorite): walking onto the track for practice with my teammates, hearing about their days and enjoying their company. I won’t be able to run with them today because I ran this morning to make it on time to class later, but a shot of their energy is enough to keep me going.

3:15 P.M. Our coaches begin a cross country game plan for today and give us a sneak peek into the week ahead.

3:35 P.M. Do “Athletic Monday” drills (hurdle drills, sprints, 1/2 of a core routine).

4:00 P.M. Head down to the weight room to lift. I LOVE LIFT. We’ve got cleans today, deadlifts, squats—fun stuff.

5:05 P.M. Return to the locker room and I put on scrubs again. (I would like to add that I perform proper hand hygiene after lift and freshen up.)

5:17 P.M. Begin my trek back to the Nursing School for lab and eat dinner en route (a quinoa rice bean bowl that I prepared this morning.)

Credit: Photo by Sean Legg, a Penn Nursing undergraduate. 5:28 P.M. Arrive at Fagin. I’m only going to the first floor but I hit the button for the elevator and just stare at the steps. My legs are forever grateful for this decision.

5:29 P.M. OR MAYBE 5:30. OKAY 5:31 P.M. Sheesh… I arrive at lab.

5:32 P.M. Get the spiel on central lines and learn about dressing changes and then perform central line dressing changes on simulation mannequins.

6:00 P.M. Watch two fellow classmates rock their way through a full simulation scenario on a hypothetical oncology patient needing a platelet transfusion.

6:50 P.M. Lab ends and I scramble over to Rhoads 6 again (the oncology unit I am on for clinical) because I forgot some of my patient’s medications which is vital for a prep tool. I forget their prior to admission medications Every. Single. Time.

7:10 P.M. Begin my walk to work. I call my mom and tell her about my day. Twenty minutes later I arrive at the house of the most kind, amazing family ever to babysit their children.

7:33 P.M. First favorite thing about Mondays: telling their kids a bedtime story. A princess story for the two-year-old girl and a superhero story for the four-year-old boy. After tucking them in, I head into the living room to find that their parents never fail to leave me water and one of their seasonal Jewish treats.

7:47 P.M. Use their living room floor to finish up that core routine from earlier before I sit down and get lazy.

8:00 P.M. Finish dinner and open laptop to work on prep tool.

10:30 P.M. The parents return and I pack up and head home. A little over half-way through the prep tool—woot woot!

10:45 P.M. Arrive home and slap some peanut butter on a piece of bread. I take a seat to enjoy my roommates’ company.

11:00 P.M. Hallelujah, a shower.

11:30 P.M. Attempt a personal record in prep tool completion.

12:10 A.M. Brush my teeth and set alarm for 5:30 to account for inevitable snoozing and printing of prep tool.

12:15 A.M. ZZZZZzzzzzzzz :)