Should I commute to nursing school even though it is located one hour away from my home? How far would you be willing to commute? These are questions that are asked every so often on these forums, so I thought I would address them with recollections of my personal experiences as a commuter.
Commuting Story Number One:
Back in 2004 I was a single 23 year-old female who had been working at a paper products factory for three years. I had been contemplating a career change for quite some time, but troubles at work brought the possibility to the forefront much sooner than I had anticipated. To keep a long story short, I needed to change careers as soon as possible, but I would be fighting an uphill battle due to lack of prerequisites and limited college experience.
Furthermore, my factory job schedule entailed working 12-hour rotating shifts until infinity. I worked three weeks of day shift (5:00am to 5:30pm), then three weeks of night shift (5:00pm to 5:30am), then back to day shift, then back to night shift, and it never ended for the three years of employment at this workplace. Since all non-managerial employees worked rotating shifts, it was clear that they would not make any special accommodations for me to attend school. So, I resigned to attend school full-time.
I selected a 12-month NLNAC-accredited vocational nursing (LVN) program with a solid reputation at a private nonprofit trade school that was established in the 1960s. Heres the catch: I was living in central California at the time, and the school was located in southern California. My commute was 95 miles one-way on Interstate 5 (190 miles round trip), five days per week for one year. That year passed surprisingly quickly. I graduated in late 2005 and passed NCLEX in January 2006.
Commuting Story Number Two:
Back in late 2008 I was a 27 year-old with nearly three years of experience as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). Since I wanted more money and knowledge, I decided to obtain licensure as a registered nurse (RN). I had earned a 3.6 grade point average in my prerequisite courses, and although this was good, it was not extremely competitive for the schools in the metropolitan area in Texas where I was now living. My best friend, who had a non-nursing bachelor of science degree in addition to an LVN license, was also having difficulty getting accepted into local LVN-to-RN bridge programs.
We chose a 14-month LPN-to-RN bridge program at a school in central Oklahoma. The school was located 225 miles away from our homes in Texas (450 miles round trip), so we drove to the school on Tuesday mornings, attended class on Tuesday afternoons, completed clinical rotations every Wednesday, went to class on Thursday afternoons, and headed back to Texas on Thursday evenings. We shared a small apartment near the school to prevent from driving back and forth daily, and kept our LVN jobs in Texas during that year. The 14 months passed relatively quickly and we graduated in March 2010.
Although commuting is certainly not for everyone, Im here to say that I have no regrets about driving my way to a better professional life, more opportunities, greater flexibility, and increased income. Cars, trucks, clothes, cell phones, handbags, and other status items will depreciate in value, but an education with marketable skills will appreciate in value and continually reap rewards.
By the way, my user name exists for a very specific reason!