UI nursing students express concerns about getting to clinicals, parking expenses

University of Iowa nursing students are struggling to pay for parking, coordinate carpools, and take the bus to get to the UI Hospital and Clinics for clinicals.


Braden Ernst

The Hawkeye Commuter Lot, 3 miles away from the hospital, is seen on March 6, 2022.

Madeleine Willis, News Reporter

University of Iowa nursing students are struggling with inconvenient transportation options when it comes to getting to their clinicals at the University of Iowa’s Hospitals and Clinics.

UI College of Nursing students have clinicals alternating every other week at UIHC. Allison Vastine, a UI third-year nursing student, does her clinicals Tuesday through Thursday from 6:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. She said she struggles to make it to clinicals.

“My walk is a mile each way,” she said, “The biggest challenge I face is weather. There have been a few instances where the temperatures were so bad, to the point where it was unsafe to walk.”

When the weather gets severe, Vastine said she has to make budget adjustments and cut back on funds for groceries and gas to be able to afford to park.

Catherine Miles, who is also a third-year student at the UI studying nursing, endures some of the same troubles and empathizes with other nurses at the hospital. She said she pays up to $60 in parking for three 12-hour shifts during a full work week.

“Just having that be a monthly burden is kind of a lot,” she said. “I think that because of the work and the physical and emotional care and support that they’re providing, offering more affordable parking is a small thing that we could do to maybe thank them for their efforts.”

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Debby Zumbach, associate vice president of business services and director of parking and transportation, said parking and transportation are costly and it is something people don’t think about.

“Campus was designed to be a walking campus for students,” Zumbach said. “Health care employees and students are very essential to our campus, but we aren’t in a position right now to do anything significant for them.”

She said there are 16,000 parking spots for all students, faculty, staff, employees, and visitors.

“We have priorities for who we want to park where,” she said, “there’s a long waitlist to park as you get closer to the hospital,” she said.

April Wells, UI parking and transportation department communications manager, said the primary concern of UIHC is patient parking.

“We are sympathetic to the costs students are facing,” Wells said.

Miles said the cost isn’t the only problem that students are facing. She said it is challenging to coordinate her schedule with others to do a carpool.

Vastine also works for Meth-Wick Assisted Living Center in Cedar Rapids in a geriatric clinical where she gets free parking to work as a nurse.

“Nurses are just working so much right now and, just the thought of having to pay $20 a day, or more for parking, it just really adds up,” she said.

Nurses are overworked and there’s a lot of burnout right now, Vastine said.

At her geriatric clinical assignment, one of the preceptors she works with there is in her second week of working without a day off.

“It’s just too expensive, and this really adds up with how much is on nurses’ plates right now,” Vastine said.