UI nursing students raise concerns about access to clinics and parking fees

Nursing students at the University of Iowa struggle to pay for parking, coordinate carpools, and take the bus to the hospital and UI clinics for clinics.

Braden Ernst

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

University of Iowa nursing students struggle with inconvenient transportation options when it comes to getting to their clinics at University of Iowa hospitals and clinics.

UI College of Nursing students have rotating clinics every two weeks at UIHC. Allison Vastine, a third-year UI nursing student, does her clinics Tuesday through Thursday from 6:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. She said she has trouble getting to the clinics.

“My walk is a mile each way,” she said, “The biggest challenge I face is the weather. it was dangerous to walk.

When the weather turns bad, Vastine said she has to make budget adjustments and cut funds for groceries and gas to be able to park.

Catherine Miles, who is also a third-year UI student in nursing studies, endures some of the same problems and sympathizes 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 the fact that it’s a monthly burden is a lot,” she said. “I think because of the hard work and the physical and emotional care and support they provide, providing more affordable parking is a small thing 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 expensive and people don’t think about it.

“Campus was designed to be a walkable campus for students,” Zumbach said. “Healthcare employees and students are very essential to our campus, but we are unable to do anything significant for them at this time.”

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

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

April Wells, communications manager for UI’s parking and transportation department, said UIHC’s main concern is patient parking.

“We are sensitive to the costs students face,” Wells said.

Miles said cost isn’t the only problem students face. She said it’s hard to coordinate her schedule with others to carpool.

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

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

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

During her clinical assignment in geriatrics, one of the preceptors she works with is on her second week of work without a day off.

“It’s just too expensive, and it really adds to what’s on nurses’ plates right now,” Vastine said.

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