Can I Work and be Successful in Nursing School?

I get this question a lot. The short answer is that it is doable, however this is not the most desirable situation. Of course you should check the program that you are considering because some actually have strict restriction against working while in nursing school.

If you are considering to work in nursing school there are a number of things that you should keep in mind.

Nursing school can be incredibly intense. You will get tons of information piled on you and have rigorous class schedules, including 9 hour clinicals -sometimes twice a week or weekends. You will need to be able to set aside time not only for tacking the actual class but also for the tremendous amount of study time you will require.

In fact, I recommend have a place that you can go to and get away from as many distractions as possible when studying. You are really going to need to focus. It doesn’t matter if it is a room in your house where you can barricade yourself behind closed doors, put in some ear plugs and get down to it- or if you need to go off to the library or some other quiet spot. But find that space the will keep you away from distractions- that includes turning off email and text messaging and your phone!

This is liable to be a very stressful time for you. Personally it will tax your patients, you will endure a barrage of info that you must assimilate and you are going to be tired. If you are in a relationship or have a family, this can both add to frustration or be a life saver. Be sure to communicate with your significant others and the rest of your family that you need moral support and have to focus on your schooling.

If you determine that you absolutely must work during nursing school, then try to keep it to a minimum of weekly hours.

Work part-time around your class schedule, maybe you can work the weekend shift or 4 hour shifts, etc. Some people choose to take night shifts and then do on-line courses.

It will be imperative that you be extremely organized. Get a big calendar to look at daily- dont just use an electronic format one. The e-calendars are great to email yourself reminders and keep a handy schedule that you can refer to, but a big wall or desk calendar with large red “exam” postings or clinical schedule will be very helpful to you.

You should spend time at the end of each week scheduling the next week’s events. List out each task, how much time you think it will take to complete, and when you are going to do them. Be sure to leave yourself some buffer time, as tasks always seem to take longer than you think and then there are the ever present interruptions.

Be sure to set realistic goals for yourself. Please don’t schedule a 40 hour work week, with 20 hours of class/clinicals and then another 20 hours of study time- not to mention daily needs time, family time, etc. You will just burn out too fast. Be smart. You are spending money and time going to school- that really should be your main focus.

This matter needs careful consideration.

In my experience, and after confirming with the directors at a few nursing school programs, it appears that among the people who fail nursing school- a larger percentage are students that tried to work too many hours at the same time as going through the program.

Of course, sometimes, you just dont have a choice. You need to money to survive so you can go to school to get better work/salary. It is quite the vicious cycle. But there are other means. There are various types of funding programs whether they be a loan, a grant, or an employer education program. I will be talking more about how to pay for nursing education in future posts.

I hope this gives you a little more insight to the situation. I am sure we will touch on this matter again, but please while you are here now: Leave me a comment- I would love to learn a little more about your specific experiences with nursing school.


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