It’s 5:45 am and you hear the dreaded iPhone ringtone startle you out of your deep sleep. You quickly roll over to snooze the deafening sound so your roommate doesn’t kill you for waking her up. It’s clinical day.
For those that don’t know the nursing curriculum, once a week nursing students go to a hospital, or hospital-like facility, where they practice and gain experience on what they have learning in the nursing classes.
Clinical days are long, starting at 7:00 and ending at 2:00 pm. Most clinical locations are about 20 minutes away, so groups usually leave at about 6:20 am to ensure they are on time and make a quick stop at Dunkin before they leave. If you’re like me, you can’t just set your alarm for 6:05 when your carpool is picking you up at 6:15. You’ll barely have enough time to put on your scrubs, brush your teeth, and get your shoes on—and forget about breakfast.
I like to give myself enough time in the morning to get ready, wake up, have a cup of tea, and definitely eat a good breakfast. So I asked a few other nursing majors about their morning routines to see what they eat before clinical.
Greek Yogurt and Fruit
Before clinical, I like to have a big bowl of yogurt. I’ll have plain Greek yogurt with strawberries, a banana, some muesli, and a little peanut butter. The peanut butter and banana are super filling and then the yogurt keeps me full for the rest of the day. I choose Greek yogurt because it has a lot of protein to keep me full, and the plain flavor because I don’t want a sugar rush that comes with some of the flavored options.
In the past, I’ve had a quick cook apple-pie flavored oatmeal cup, but it was way too sweet and did not keep me full for the long day. I felt tired, dizzy, and really nauseous. My hands were shaking from all the sugar and caffeine I had that morning. I think all the sugar also threw off my appetite, for the rest of the day I was absolutely STARVING and craved more sugar for the rest of the day. I think it’s best to have a balanced, filling breakfast consisting of protein and some carbs that will keep you satiated.
Oatmeal and Coffee
“I have oatmeal and a banana and then a medium Dunkin donuts coffee. This is the only thing that will keep me full for over 7 hours. I have it every single day and if I don’t have it, my day will be literally ruined and I’ll be really thrown off.” – SarahKatherine Mascoli.
Oatmeal is a great breakfast; it’s a nice source of fiber and really filling. It also can keep your blood sugar stable, which is great for a long day. However, try to stay away from the flavored ones that are high in sugar. SarahKatherine had a similar experience to me with this, she said that last year she tried “a gross oatmeal that was too sweet so [she] didn’t finish it and was so hungry during clinical, and felt really tired and angry.”
#SpoonTip: To save time in the morning make overnight oats the night before. Mix oats with any type of milk, chia seeds, yogurt, and fruit with toppings of your choice to sit overnight in the fridge.
Lauren Mixon says she likes to make an egg white omelet before clinical with toast. She adds spinach, onions and cheese. This is her go-to breakfast because eggs keep her full and Lauren says it’s really important to eat a big breakfast so she does not get hungry during clinical. She said she would never skip breakfast because she is concerned she may faint.
Eggs are a fantastic breakfast since they are a great source of protein and you can cook them dozens of ways. An omelet is an easy way to incorporate some vegetables into your breakfast, and all the health benefits vegetables bring to your diet. The only draw back to this breakfast is that the preparation may take more time in the morning than some of the other breakfast options.#SpoonTip: try making an omelet in the microwave to save prep and cleaning time.
Rice Cake with Peanut Butter and Banana
Emily Hiltunen has rices cake with peanut butter and a banana or oatmeal before she sets off for her clinical days. Emily chooses this breakfast because it's the easiest meal to make in her dorm room that also doesn't wake up her roommate.
She also said she likes to bring a banana or granola bar with her because she has to eat so quickly in the morning. This is a great breakfast option as well, and, to even enhance it, you could substitute whole wheat or whole grain toast for the rice cake.
“Last week, I only had a Quest Bar and was really hungry, but didn’t feel like I was going to pass out, I just didn’t feel full,” Emily told me. While granola bars or protein bars may have all the necessary nutrients that would comprise a meal and are extremely convenient, they are not necessarily filing, and so not the best choice for a six hour day.
Cereal and Coffee
Katie Lynch keeps it simple with cereal and coffee. She says she needs the coffee to wake her up and the cereal is really filling. She usually has Special K, which is a better choice than a really sugary cereal that will give you one burst of energy than a quick crash following. Katie says she would never skip breakfast before clinical because it’s dangerous and she thinks she would probably faint.
Whether you’re a nursing major or not, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, so do your best not to skip it. Set your alarm a few minutes earlier so that you can start off your day better.
It’ll set the tone for your whole day, and your metabolism will be very thrown off if you don’t take the time to have breakfast. Make sure to try out one of these great breakfast options to get you through a long day.