Nursing School while still working?

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    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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  2. 14 Comments...

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    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.
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    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!
    mo2rn, Jules A, KimberlyRN89, and 1 other like this.
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    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!!
    Jules A likes this.
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    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 .
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    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.
    Mrs. SnowStormRN likes this.
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    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
    SanDiegoCaliRN likes this.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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

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