Nursing School while still working?

  1. Hello,

    I am asking about this on the general discussion board in order to get the feedback from those of you that have been out working in the field a while, in contrast to the people still in Nursing School.

    I have long thought about being a nurse, but have set it aside as life was busy with kids (now grown - 1 in Nursing School) work was plentiful and fulfilling, etc.... Now, my industry is very slow, financial it would be a bit more doable, etc... Everyone that I have asked either within the industry, or others that have made midlife changes has said they think I would make a great nurse, and to go for it. We have a highly regarded Associates Degree Nursing program right in out small town with somewhat flexible class times, and the Financial Aid looks like it would be the best while my kids are still in school too. The stars might be aligning

    What my biggest worry at this point is I would need to keep working part time at least to make it work financially. I am not sure how much time I would need to allot to work vs. schooling, and if I could fit it all in. My job is pretty flexible as far as 'when' I work, so that would be a huge help with scheduling.

    I would need to do all the pre-requisites, as I have had no relevant courses under my belt. The courses here are somewhat gear toward 'adult students' in a way that it is usually 9-11 credits per semester. The way most semester (I figure it would take me 3-4 to do pre-reqs, and 4 for the nursing classes/clinicals) are laid out they are 9-12 classroom/lab hours for pre-reqs and about 4-6 classroom hours and 11-12 clinical hours for the nursing classes, until the last semester with bumps up to 15-16 clinical hours.

    So, what I am wondering is this; with that type of load, how much, on average, would you all say it took to do your studies outside of the classroom/clinicals? I have 'heard' that 2-3 hours per credit hour is 'average'. I honestly don't know how clinicals work and if/how much outside studies are associated with that part. Is 20-30 hours of extra studies an accurate 'estimate'?

    I feel I would need to work at least 20 hours per week to make things work. If it could be more, all the better. I an no stranger to working 60+ hours per week in my current job when needed, so lots of hours dont really bother me. I would say I am most likely a little better than average learner - better at concepts than memorizing facts.

    Thanks for any advice you can provide,

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    About djdietz

    Joined: Jul '11; Posts: 6; Likes: 1


  3. by   zjesko
    I congratulate you on looking into nursing school. It is a great field that provides vast opportunities unlike any other profession. That said, nursing school will be one of the hardest things you do in your life. Prepare for lots of homework and research papers. The 2 yr degree has a much higher workload than the 4 yr because you have to learn the same stuff, just in half the time. The benefits are well worth it though and if you look hard enough there are plenty of grants and scholarships out there to help you with your finances.
  4. by   wee_oneRN
    I went to nursing school in my early 30's, and still managed to work full time. It's very do-able. There will be many people and esp instructors that will warn you how tough school and clinicals are. They will tell you that you cannot work at all. While this may be true for some students, it isn't universal.

    Nursing school is difficult and time consuming. What it really requires us determination. I hit many obstacles while in NS (husband had spinal surgery which put him out of work, lost our cars and home, I worked fulltime, then he moved 300 miles away for work without me, etc..) I maintained a b average and stayed determined to succeed. I also stayed away from the negative students.

    Starting your career in nursing is a great idea. Your age really isn't much of a factor, you will see all ages in school. Understand that it will take you several years to complete. You must finish pre reqs, apply and then there is the waiting list before you can even tackle the two years of NS. If you already have a college degree, there are better routes than getting your ADN, so be sure to do your research first!

    Good luck!
  5. by   DebblesRN
    I worked full time while going to nursing school. It sucked, but I did it. If you can maintain part-time hours while going to school, that is awesome. Go for it. I always felt it wouldn't have been so hard had I been able to cut my work hours, but I had to work full time in order to keep my tuition reimbursement from the hospital I worked at. They required Full time in order to get their nursing scholarships.

    Good Luck!!
  6. by   RN in training
    hey friend! i am a nursing student, but i thought i'd throw out some insight too. During pre-reqs, I generally took about 9 credit hours/semester...that was like a full time job for me (class + study = 40 hrs)...I was about to work about 10-15 hrs/week okay. But now that the clinical program has begun, It's definitely more challenging...things are moving much more quickly and there is significanlt more material thrown at you (think about trying to drink from a fire hydrant, haha!) and yes, clinicals DO require outside time...I would say the full time nursing program is probably spending more like 50ish, maybe sometimes even 60hrs/week now with lab/class/open lab (which i def use to practice)/clinical/clinical prep and paper work...That said, I know several people in my class who are having to work...I know one single mom who is working as a CNA full time nights on weekends and she's doing okay in school. I mean it's hard as heck, but it's definitely doable if you've got that fire in your gut .
  7. by   applewhitern
    I didn't qualify for any Pell grants, etc., so I went via scholarship, meaning I had to work for the hospital that paid my tuition. They only paid for the nursing courses, and I had to pay the rest. So, I had to work full-time to pay for this and books, gas, etc. I had 2 small kids. I worked 6 days per week, took core classes at night after work, paid babysitters out the yang-yang. Nursing classes were on Mondays from 8-4. Clinicals Tues and Thurs. Looking back, I don't know how I did it. Nursing school is a total commitment, you have to put on blinders and keep pushing thru. Financial aid is probably easier to come by today; my husband and I made $27,000 together in 1987, with 2 kids, and I didn't qualify for aid based on our income! If I had it to do all over again, no I wouldn't, I would spend more time with my kids while they were young.
  8. by   MrChicagoRN
    Due to timing of my acceptance into a program, I had a year before I would actually be starting. I used that time to take evening classes and got my A&P, chemistry etc out of the way. That way I had a lighter load for the first year, and could work pretty much full time. The 2nd year was tougher in terms of finances.

    Try trimming expenses now, and increasing your savings. Consider a ROTH IRA. The money is post-tax investment so you can pull out your contributions without penalty, and IIRC, won't be considered as an asset when you do your FAFSA
  9. by   Jules A
    Since you are already geared toward a heavy work load and your job is flexible I would encourage you to do it. I worked a minimum of 30 hours a week from my LPN through grad school and did well. In most cases I was studying about an hour a day. Good luck.
  10. by   LoveMyBugs
    Working and going to school is very doable. I started out taking only one class at a time chipping away at the pre-reqs. I then was taking up to 16 credits for pre-reqs so that by the time I was in a nursing program I only had the core nursing classes to take and I was able to work about 12 hours a week.
  11. by   nicenurselpn
    i too worked full time while attending nursing school at night. i also had a family too. it can be done, but you have to be very focused. fortunately the job i had at the time while in school was able modify my hours. i would get into the office at about 7am and work until 330pm. i studied on my lunch break. i had no life for about 18 months, but in the end it was worth it. if there is a will, there is a way!!!

    nicenurse lpn
  12. by   kittypoops
    I am a full time nursing student. I have open lab on Mondays from 8-4, class on tuesdays and wednesdays from 11-2, and clinicals on thursday and friday from 6:45-1:00. I'm not sure what other students have, but this is my schedule for my ADN. That being said, after the first month of school, I am finding that I'm in school for more than 40 hours, while studying or writing care plans for about 3-7 hours a night after school. I'm currently working about 12 hours a week and that is even stressful enough! Some of my classmates work full time but they are not doing so well. When we were accepted into the program, we were warned that only about 2-3 people graduated while working full time- in the entire time the program has been available at my community college,( which has been about 10 or more years). They told us we will not be successful if we work more than 20 hours a week. So, please keep that in mind when you think about your availability to work full time. Sure, it is doable, but are you going to be skating through with your grades, barely studying and not knowing how to properly complete your skills? Or do you want to take the time to study your skills, pass your validations on the first time, and not stress about time management. Good luck to you with your choice!
  13. by   treysdaddy08
    It really depends on how you learn. If I read your post correctly, you've got at least *some* college under your belt, so that helps a lot. You know how much you had to study to get the grades you got.
    The classes aren't, "easy", but they aren't overly hard, imo. At least, the pre-req's and first 2 quarters weren't (that's how far I made it before I dropped out; outside school reasons). You will have to do some seriously studying, but I always thought that the, "2-3 hours per hour of class" was asinine. If you're in class 3 hours a day, four days a week, that's 12 hours of class, plus, 24-36 hours of study! I personally studied probably 12-20 hours a week, max. Depends on the class and how well I felt I was grasping it. Again, you know how you learn. Some people it takes a little longer, while others pick things up pretty easily. Good luck!
  14. by   canesdukegirl
    First of all, my hat is off to you for pursuing a career in nursing. It is not an easy journey.

    To address your questions, I think that you can go to nursing school while working part time. I don't know what kind of hours you work at your current job, but flexibility in your work schedule will be a godsend.

    When you are doing your pre-reqs, I must honestly state that most of this learning is rote memorization. Microbiology is at once conceptualizing the essence of growth and proliferation, while also requiring you to know factual information that is the 'meat and potatoes' of the science itself.

    Anatomy and Physiology is also the same type of learning. You can conceptualize the physiology part, but you MUST know the anatomy aspect by memorization.

    Once you get into nursing school, the conceptualization part of your brain will be doing a happy dance! Most of what you will learn is comprehension and implementation.

    There are many grants and scholarships that you may qualify for that you don't even know about. When I was in nursing school, there was a $1500 grant that was awarded to a qualified student who showed interest in oncology nursing. There was another that was offered to students that lived in XYZ county. And yet another that was offered to students who were affiliated with student government activities.

    I don't know if I was the typical nursing student or not: I studied CONSTANTLY. I would review my notes at red lights, for gods sake! Nursing school consumed me, and I thought of little else....but I always kept in mind that there was light at the end of the tunnel. I knew that my commitment was on the one hand unyielding, but on the other hand, temporary. What I mean is that I pretty much walled myself off from distractions for 4 years, knowing that I would be able to enjoy life after I was done with school. Do you think that you would be willing to do that?

    I wish you only the best, and truly hope that you find your educational journey to be challenging, enlightening, and rewarding. It feels great to cross the finish line when you graduate and pass the NCLEX. Once you start your first job as an RN, there are many hurdles to jump, but you can do it.

    Nursing is a wonderful profession, in my opinion. Even with all of the pitfalls, frustrations and demands that it entails, I still cannot imagine doing anything else. It is a humbling profession. At my core, I still say a quiet prayer of thanks that I have been blessed with the mental and physical faculties to provide nursing care to so many; I remain...FULFILLED.