Is It Possible To Work During Nursing School?
Students repeatedly ask variations of the following questions: "Is it possible to work while enrolled in the nursing program at my school full-time?" "Should I work while attending nursing school?" This article will attempt to address five different points of consideration separately with the goal of helping readers make this important decision.
Students commonly ask variations of the following questions: "Is it possible to work while enrolled in the nursing program at my school full-time?" "Should I work while attending nursing school?"
The answer is not a clear-cut "yes" or "no" because it really hinges on your financial situation, support system, multitasking skills, views on financial aid, and ability to deal with distractions. For instance, the individual who has always required more time to learn new material and easily gets distracted by side issues might not perform well in nursing school if he attempts to work a full-time job at the same time. On the other hand, the person who easily comprehends new material and has successfully balanced multiple commitments in the past might be able to juggle full-time school attendance with full-time employment while maintaining excellent grades.
Without further ado, I will address the five points of consideration separately with the overriding goal of helping readers make this important decision.
How is your current financial situation?
Some nursing students have enough money saved to pay bills without having to work for several years while others live from paycheck to paycheck. Some people spend less money on household expenses because they are being financially supported by parents, a spouse, or significant other. Other people are single parents who definitely need a steady stream of cash flow while in school.
What does your support system look like?
Some students have strong support systems that consist of immediate family, extended family members, close friends, and others who would either lend or give them money if a financial bind occurred. On the other hand, some students have no support system and must do it alone. People who have very weak or nonexistent support systems may wish to consider finding employment.
Do you have the ability to multitask?
Have you succeeded at balancing several major commitments in the past? If you have been able to work two full-time jobs or go to school full-time while handling full-time employment previously, you might be able to work while attending nursing school.
What are your views on financial aid?
Does tens of thousands of dollars worth of student loan debt bother you? If you do not mind living on federal and private student loan proceeds while attending school, you might be able to get by without working a job. However, if you're the type of person who likes to be debt-free or minimize the amount of money that you borrow, you may want to work while attending school.
How do you cope with distractions?
The answer to this question requires an especially honest self-appraisal. Are you a quick learner who can block out extraneous issues? Or are you easily distracted by drama, workplace issues, and pressing commitments? If you have always learned at a slower pace than others around you and get easily distracted, you may want to reconsider working while going to school.
I did not work while attending a 12-month LVN program, because although I was a single female with a mortgage and other bills, I collected unemployment for the first six months and lived off my savings account when the unemployment checks ran out. However, I worked 32 hours per week as an LVN at a nursing home while attending a 14-month LPN-to-RN bridge program. My schedule of two 16-hour shifts on Saturdays and Sundays from 6:00am to 10:00pm enabled me to have Monday through Friday off every week, and I used these five days off per week to attend school.Last edit by Joe V on Jun 15, '18
About TheCommuter, BSN, RN
TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied workplace experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.
Joined: Feb '05; Posts: 38,032; Likes: 69,261
CRRN, now a case management RN; from US
Specialty: Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psychJan 9, '13Joined: Jun '12; Posts: 740; Likes: 641Great breakdown of the issues involved. I actually started out nursing school working full-time because I was in the process of being laid off (job was outsourced) but the lay off was pushed back from August to November. Working 33+ hours a week and going to nursing school was BRUTAL. I passed and even got A's in clinical so I must have done something right. For the last little over a year I have been unemployed though and that has certainly been NICE to not have to worry about working a ton of hours. I do work a small part-time job in a doctor's office helping with billing just to stretch out my unemployment but otherwise my time is given to my family and school.Jan 9, '13Joined: Jul '12; Posts: 26; Likes: 53I noticed that I always performed better in school the more hours I worked. With less time to waste my schoolwork had to be done quickly, so it was. When I was able to cut hours at work the last year or so my extra time rarely went to studyingJan 9, '13Specialty: Telemetry ; From: US ; Joined: Jun '08; Posts: 400; Likes: 107There's also the consideration that working while in school can help new nurses secure a job when they graduate. Finding the time to work a few shifts a month at a foot-in-the-door job can be immensely helpful later on. Jobs can also help supplement a nursing student's education - as a unit sec in the ER, I "studied" on the job by being constantly aware and observant of everything going on around me, which helped me with my class material more than I expected. So, really, another question should be "which job" - the ability of a nursing student to balance work and school would differ greatly on how healthcare-related the job was, and if the job had downtime in which the student could study.Jan 9, '13Joined: Dec '12; Posts: 58; Likes: 50I didn't work my first two semesters but do now going into my 4th. I work as an aide at a hospital on a PRN basis; Saturdays only during the semester but a ton over breaks. I think everyone is different. Working as an aide has really helped me develop my interactions with patients and has exposed me to a lot things I hadn't seen. Plus I have made some great contacts which will be a huge plus later.Jan 9, '13Occupation: Forensic Psych/Acute Rehab RN Specialty: 2 year(s) of experience in Forensic Psych ; From: US ; Joined: Mar '12; Posts: 2,773; Likes: 3,059Quote from nightnurse28That's the way I am with housework. My house is so much cleaner and organized when I'm in school vs a stay at home mom. No time to procrastinate, versus endless amounts of time. I thrive when I'm busy!I noticed that I always performed better in school the more hours I worked. With less time to waste my schoolwork had to be done quickly, so it was. When I was able to cut hours at work the last year or so my extra time rarely went to studyingJan 9, '13Joined: Aug '12; Posts: 376; Likes: 187Commuter, I did the same as you in LPN school, and looks like in doing the similar as you in RN school.
I'm doing a traditional 4 semester ADN program.
It's encouraging to see other people blaze a path , before me.Jan 9, '13Occupation: Registered Nurse Specialty: 2 year(s) of experience in Corrections ; From: US ; Joined: Jan '13; Posts: 2; Likes: 4I worked full-time until my last semester of LPN school. I worked full-time 40+ during RN school, then last semester switched to baylor 6am-10pm Saturday and Sunday. It was not easy, many sleepless and tearful nights.Jan 9, '13Occupation: Registered Nurse Specialty: Oncology ; From: US ; Joined: Jul '12; Posts: 25; Likes: 14I am currently working on my BSN and I am working. I am a single, older student who is fortunate enough to have financial support from my parents. School has always come easy to me, but I found that I am only comfortable working 1 day/week and every other weekend (about 15 hours/week). I also have a work study job on campus totaling about 20 hours per week. Even with the hours I work, the assistance from my parents, and the decision to bite my pride to take advantage of food stamps and housing assistance (which I have paid into for 25 years), I still borrow the maximum amount of student loans that I can because that is the only financial aid that I am eligible for. I know in the end that it will all be worth it, but between school and my jobs, I often feel like I don't have enough time to spend with my family, sleep, and maintain any relationships outside of school.Jan 9, '13Joined: Dec '12; Posts: 11; Likes: 25I am a single mom to 2 kids (6yr & 7mths). I am in 2 quarter of nursing school. I have worked full time up till Feb 1. At which time I will start 32 hrs a week. Its not easy, but IM trying my best and know I won't be given more than I can handle. In my own opinion, one must do what they must do to survive. I have no one I can move inn with. I know I can't survive with 2 kids on 12.45$ an hour. I know in my brain, and most days in my heart, that 2 yrs of sacrifice to finish my ADN is worth it for myself and my babies. I have to work. I don't have the option not to. But BC I have my kids, and they rely on me, my motivation to multi task, work, school, cook, clean, etc. most definitely helps me push forward. I think everyone has to find that one thing that lights fire under their butt, and hold onto it with all your might.Jan 9, '13From: US ; Joined: May '12; Posts: 39; Likes: 70I have worked 3 days a week all through my first Block. It's busy, but I didn't think it was impossible. I don't have kids so that helped, but if you manage your time and do something school-related everyday, you can keep up I think.Jan 9, '13Occupation: Teacher From: US ; Joined: Oct '12; Posts: 148; Likes: 21I will be starting a BSN program in August and I am very nervous about not being able to work. I am an elementary school teacher now and I'm doing my best to save as much as I can to get through the first semester or two without working. Thankfully my husband is supportive but we have three kids. I just want to make sure financially we will be ok. The posts on AN really helps me to see that it can be done.Jan 10, '13Joined: May '09; Posts: 382; Likes: 862Thanks for presenting this as an individual decision--which it is! We've all seen questions posed on this board where someone asks if they can/should work while attending nursing school. There are a flurry of responses, usually saying, "Yes! You can do it!!!". Those cheerleaders have no idea what the burdens are on this stranger's life, what their academic capabilities are, or what their financial needs are. You pointed out the important factors to consider; what most beginning students don't know is how difficult nursing school will be. Only after a student begins the program can they really know how many hours per day is required to successfully complete it... and how much energy it requires.
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