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How do I deal with work plus school?

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It’s not easy to balance a nursing career with academic advancement. Whether you work full-time or part-time, adding in a course of study is a challenge—but it can be done. The good news is that if you’ve decided to return to school, you clearly understand the value of education. You’re a highly motivated person, and that bodes well for your ability to handle a situation that tests the juggling skills of even the most organized nurses.

First, be realistic. Working full-time and carrying a full course load while caring for three young children and an aging parent might be more than you (or anyone!) can handle—and that’s okay. Until you have a better idea of what your coursework requires, consider easing into school. Maybe take a class or two the first semester and work your way up as you adjust to your new pace.

Consider adjusting your work schedule as well. Most healthcare facilities are very supportive of employees who return to school. So don’t be afraid to ask your boss if you can cut back to part-time or switch to another shift. Remember, it never hurts to ask.

Brush up on your time management skills as well. If you don’t already have a planner, get one. Fill in your work shifts and classes, and schedule in time for homework. Try to take advantage of “wasted time”—time you’d otherwise spend waiting around. If you normally spend 45 minutes per week at your son’s swim class, take along your textbook and read the next chapter.

Finally, take advantage of your position. As a returning-to-school nurse, you have ample opportunities to put what you’re learning to use. Introduce new ideas and techniques at staff meetings. Use unit problems as a jumping-off point for a research project. Include patient case studies (being sure to change names and identifying details) in your papers.

Above all, give yourself time. Soon, you’ll learn what works for you.

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4 Responses to How do I deal with work plus school?

  1. STUDENT NURSE

    Such an important point that oftentimes working nurses fail to remember- although it may lengthen your school time for a semester or two, it is OKAY to go back part-time while working full time.

    Solely attending school (as in nursing school) and attending school while having a full time job are two very different scenarios- even if you only work three days a week. Don’t be afraid to ease into the workload and possibly pick up more classes later if you feel comfortable. Overloading yourself from the beginning is only going to cause frustration, high stress levels, and a negatively impacted education.

  2. Lisa M., RN

    The burning dilemma for nurses- to go back to school or to not go back to school. Start with confidence that you can do it and realize that once the degree is under your belt all the stress that you encountered will be worthwhile.

    Good tips for time management, just being more proactive in your free time will open up a lot of unexpected study time. I like the first paragraph, very motivating.

  3. Joan M.

    The nurse returning to school will know when the time is right and will be ready for the challenge. As a returning nurse I have felt the pressures of a full time job, full time student, and mother all at the same time. The stress is strong but with confidience anyone can work the schedule out. It does take a very dedicated person to do it but it is possible for all of us. Good luck to all returning nurses.

  4. Joan M., RN, BSN, MSMHA

    The nurse returning to school will know when the time is right and will be ready for the challenge. As a returning nurse I have felt the pressures of a full time job, full time student, and mother all at the same time. The stress is strong but with confidience anyone can work the schedule out. It does take a very dedicated person to do it but it is possible for all of us. Good luck to all returning nurses..