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The lowdown on higher ed for nurses

higheredYou want to get ahead in your career, but you probably have a litany of excuses why going back to school just doesn’t fit into your life or budget. Here’s how to overcome the three most common hurdles from the Fall 2013 issue of Scrubs.

Obstacle #1: You don’t have the money.

If you haven’t been in school for a while, you may be in for tuition sticker shock. And if getting an advanced degree means cutting your hours at work, it can be a double whammy. Lost wages coupled with the high price of higher education is enough for many to close the book on school.

Workaround: Plan ahead and apply yourself.

There are plenty of nurse-specific programs to help defray costs. Explore which scholarships, grants and loan forgiveness plans you are eligible for, and apply. Also, some hospitals and healthcare organizations offer tuition assistance and flexible work schedules as incentives for employees to pursue an advanced degree.

Obstacle #2: You don’t have the time.

You can’t quit working, you’ve got family responsibilities and with so little free time as it is, how can you possibly find the time to go to classes and study?

Workaround: Be flexible.

Make time by prioritizing, learning to say no and delegating responsibility to others (but don’t cut corners on sleep, nutrition or exercise—you’ll need to be in shape to handle added stress). If you need to put off your educational ambitions for a few years, then use that time to get your ducks in a row—saving where you can, researching schools and scholarships, and reading articles and books that will ease the way back to school.

Obstacle #3: You don’t have the confidence.

Those inner voices are saying, “You’re too old to learn; studying was never your strong suit; your computer skills are lacking”… or maybe it’s a steady drumbeat from family, friends or coworkers: “Why bother?” … “It will be too hard” … “It’s a waste of money.”

Workaround: Find educational role models.

Talk to nurses who’ve overcome similar challenges on their way to advanced degrees; they can help you separate legitimate concerns from those triggered by fear, and provide a dose of moral support. As for the naysayers, cut their negative comments off at the pass by letting them know how much you’d appreciate their support. Finally, since nothing succeeds like success, consider easing back into school with one course per semester—starting with one that plays to your strengths.

Need a reason to earn an advanced degree? We’ll give you five.

  1. More career options
  2. Higher pay
  3. Personal reward
  4. Intellectual growth
  5. Greater job stability

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