Nursing school is a time in your life that offers persistent contradictions. Exhilarating and exhausting. Dream-filled but doubt-laden. Rapturous highs mixed with ragged lows.
This is the experience of a nursing student.
But this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the opposite is true . . .
A quality nursing program will challenge and inspire you every day. It’s a preview of the career to come.
The nursing school journey becomes even more demanding for students who have to work an outside job. Attending class, studying for exams, completing clinicals, and preparing for your NCLEX® — it’s enough to keep any student busy. But when you add a part-time or full-time job into the mix, your margin for error decreases significantly.
The demands of working while going to nursing school should not discourage you from following your dreams. Nurses are profoundly resilient, a trait that is perhaps forged in the nursing school fires.
If you are a student facing the task of education by day and employment by night, here are a few simple pointers for the juggling act you are about to experience . . .
1. Develop a Plan
Success never comes accidentally. If you are going to excel in nursing school while working to pay the bills, it is imperative that you put together an action plan.
Schedule your days and weeks in advance. Your time is a valuable resource that must be budgeted carefully, perhaps now more than ever.
Block out a daily hour to study. Set aside precious minutes for review. Protect your sleep schedule so you’re alert in class.
The scheduling, preparing, and planning you do now will not only get you through nursing school successfully, it will prepare you for the future rigors you’ll face as a practicing clinician.
2. Pursue Shorter but More Frequent Study Sessions
Whether you’re reading, reviewing, charting, or prepping, you probably won’t have hours on end for your study. As a working student, you’ll need to maximize your time. This means shorter, more focused, bursts of learning.
- Do you have 20 minutes on the bus? That’s 20 minutes to study.
- Are you permitted a lunch break on the job? That’s a perfect chance to review your notes.
- Is there a free hour between classes? Take advantage of that hour.
It won’t be easy, and you’ll have to be disciplined, but if you’ll look for them, there are precious moments in every day that you can allot for study.
3. Use Your Phone
A benefit of being a nursing student in a digital age is that you have a valuable resource in the palm of your hand — your phone.
YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, and the latest apps are all great, but these are time takers, not career makers.
There are excellent online learning tools (like UWorld) that are available on any device. These products will help reinforce what you’re learning and prepare you for high-stakes exams . . . right from your phone.
If you have a few minutes to study on the go, utilize the technology available to study anytime, anywhere.
4. Remember Why You’re Doing It
There will be days that are rewarding and days that are challenging. Teachers that encourage you and shifts that exhaust you. Through it all, remember why you started this journey in the first place. Keep the goal before you and the dream alive.
You have more than a career before you; you have a calling.
When the obstacle seems too large and the tasks seem too daunting, remember why you’re doing it. You’re going to help people. You’re going to bring hope and healing. You’re going to be a nurse. That’s worth the price. You’ll never regret it.
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