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Working While in Nursing School: Tips to Balance a Busy Schedule

Published on: January 18, 2023

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There is no one right path to achieving your dream career in the healthcare field. Some students prefer to focus exclusively on school before moving into the professional realm. Others benefit more from combining school and work. In this guide, we'll explain when the latter option is ideal — and what it takes to excel when tackling nursing school and a full-time job simultaneously.

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Is Nursing School Worth It?

No matter when or how you pursue your nursing degree, your high-level nursing program will grant you vital skills and knowledge. Upon graduating, you could dramatically improve both your long-term career prospects and immediate earning potential. You'll emerge feeling more confident as a nurse and more committed to giving your patients the quality care they deserve. Now, you just need to determine how you'll attend and whether you'll continue working.

Can You Work While in Nursing School? 

The answer to this question is simple: yes! Many students successfully work while attending nursing school. That said, this approach takes a lot of careful planning and exceptional time management. If you're willing to make the commitment, however, you can absolutely handle both work and school in a full-time capacity. 

Tips for Juggling Work While in Nursing School

Get ready for a whirlwind year or two as you add nursing school to an already major workload. With the right resources and a flexible program, you really can do it all. Follow these helpful suggestions to make the most of your time as a student and a professional. 

Prioritize Projects

As a student, you'll always need to juggle various class projects and assignments. Doing so strategically becomes more important when your schedule is crammed. With limited time available to make progress on these, you'll need to set realistic goals and rank to-dos by urgency and importance.

Your approach to prioritization will depend largely on your unique strengths and challenges as a student. If you know that you struggle with a particular topic, build in extra time for relevant assignments. Update your rankings as you work on (or complete) projects — and as new ones are assigned.

Develop a Schedule That Works for You

Simultaneous success in work and school depends on a strategic schedule that allows you to make the most of every minute. Begin by determining when and how you'll handle the most essential and least flexible obligations: shifts at work and in-person academic experiences (such as labs or clinicals). Don't forget to include time for your commute if you have to drive to campus. 

Next, determine how and when you'll handle schooling essentials that are a bit more flexible. If, for example, you attend nursing school online, you may have greater control over your class schedule. Don't be tempted to skimp on class time or blend it into study sessions. You need enough time to cover material such as lectures, videos and online discussions, plus extra allotments for reading and reviewing. 

Finally, build in personal time for exercising or decompressing, plus household chores and time with family and friends. Use a scheduling app or a classic planner to keep it all straight — and don't hesitate to revise your schedule if you discover you need more or less time for certain obligations. 

Utilize Resources 

Time management apps are your best friends as a busy nursing student, but you'll also enjoy access to a wealth of other digital and physical resources. Some are offered through your college: tutoring, for example, can be incredibly helpful, as can your university writing center. Other resources may take extra effort to obtain but could be well worth the extra research if they streamline your busy life.

Maintain Open Communication with Professors and Bosses 

Working students can be an asset to both professors and employers — and both are often willing to make accommodations if they're kept in the loop. Let bosses and professors know about your busy schedule at the beginning of each term and specific ways in which your school and work schedules might conflict.

If you're open and upfront about any issues, you can work with your professor or supervisor to develop mutually beneficial solutions. Similarly, you'll want to reach out as quickly as possible if any unforeseen issues arise.

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Prioritize Wellbeing 

Caught up in the often-competing demands of school and work, it can be tempting to leave essentials such as sleep and exercise by the wayside. Ultimately, however, your failure to address your physical and mental wellbeing will negatively impact your academic performance.

It's possible to remain healthy while attending school and working full-time, but you'll need to be intentional. Helpful hacks include:

  • Only watch your favorite TV shows on the treadmill.
  • Combine social time with exercise by taking walks with loved ones or attending exercise classes with friends.
  • Commute by bike whenever possible.
  • Stock up on healthy snacks if you're often tempted to nosh after a long study session. 

Be Flexible

Flexibility seems impossible when you're cramming the equivalent of two full-time commitments into your schedule — but it's actually more important, not less. Remember, you need to make the most of each moment; that is impossible if you're firmly dedicated to completing a task that's just not realistic at the moment. If, for example, you have writer's block, you might need to swap your study hour with your exercise session and return to coursework later. As long as all the essentials are completed, the order in which you check off those to-dos won't always matter. 

Find a Study Group

After a long day at work, it can be tough to find the motivation to study. Sometimes, you need a little extra accountability. This can be found in the form of a dedicated study group. Ideally, you'll meet regularly to discuss the most challenging concepts from your classes, bounce ideas for projects and study for tests. Your study group can also be an amazing source of support when you feel stressed or overwhelmed. 

If you're enrolled in an online program or just can't carve out the time to meet other students in person, don't worry: online study groups are increasingly popular. Other busy students will be happy to meet virtually to study, chat and commiserate. 

Stay Organized

A little organization can do a world of good when life gets busy. Still, this needs to be tailored to your unique status as both a student and professional. Don't make the mistake of assuming that a one-size-fits-all solution will work for you. Instead, think carefully about which approaches have proven more or less effective in the past. From there, you can develop file folders, binders or digital options that keep your documents and schedule in order.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help 

Friends, family members, partners... plenty of people know how committed you are to your nursing journey. Most will be eager to help. All you need to do is ask.

If you start to feel like a burden, consider how you would respond in the reverse situation: if a loved one needed a little extra assistance while pursuing something important, you would jump at the chance to lend a hand. The same rings true when you're enrolled in nursing school. 

Opportunities for loved ones to remove some of the burden include: 

  • If you're a parent, ask loved ones for babysitting so you can focus on your coursework.
  • Have friends proofread your papers or quiz you to prepare for exams.
  • Ask your partner to take on a greater share of the household tasks near the end of each term.

Focus on the End Goal 

If your workload starts to feel overwhelming, remind yourself why you're enrolled and what you hope to accomplish in the long term. How will your current job and your nursing degree move you toward your ultimate goals? Some temporary scheduling complications could unleash a whole world of opportunity, so remember that the long hours will ultimately prove worthwhile. 

Benefits of Having a Job While in Nursing School

Working while enrolled is never easy; both commitments require time, effort and concentration. Need a reminder of why you've taken on so much? Benefits worth remembering include:

  • Move into better, higher-paying jobs faster
  • Some employers may help cover the cost of tuition
  • No stress overpaying for daily expenses
  • Avoid loans and keep your debt to a minimum
  • Insights gained in class can be immediately applied at work — and vice versa
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Make the Most of Flexible Nursing Programs at Husson University 

If you're ready to earn your nursing degree and pursue a career that matters, look to Husson University for the guidance you need. We offer several excellent nursing programs, including several Master of Science in Nursing degree programs and Post-Master's Nursing certificate programs, to help you take the next step in your professional journey. Contact us today to learn more about our flexible options.


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