Nervous About Nursing School and Working Full Time

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I am about to start LVN school in about a month but I noticed I've been getting nervous about it because I will be working full time also, as I need to provide for my family. Is it normal? And is it doable?

    Dear Nervous,

    What's doable for one person may not be doable for another. It depends on determination and aptitude.
    If you have both, nothing can stop you.

    The key is to keep your eye on the end goal. Once you have your LVN, you will be able to provide for your family and have steady employment.


    Those who work during school have to be creative about finding time to study, and balancing all their responsibilities.
    Have you checked to see if you qualify for a Pell grant, which doesn't have to be repaid? Can you work part-time?

    It's normal to be nervous before starting school, and the best remedy for pre-school jitters is...starting school! I wish you the best and keep us posted.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth
    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    Last edit by Nurse Beth on Oct 11
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,573; Likes: 4,713
    Nursing Professional Development Specialist; from CA , US
    Specialty: Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho

    10 Comments

  3. by   adventure_rn
    I like Nurse Beth, but I don't know if I agree that determination and aptitude are enough.

    So much of it depends on the flexibility of your current employer. Are you in a full-time job where you can self-schedule around your school commitments? In school, your class and clinical commitments are completely out of your hands. You can't adjust the times or dates, so you have to adjust your life to work around class and clinicals. I know I've heard of people on AN working full time during school, but I haven't personally seen it (and I think that many schools flat out forbid it, although it would be hard for them to enforce).
  4. by   Nurse Beth
    Quote from adventure_rn
    I like Nurse Beth, but I don't know if I agree that determination and aptitude are enough.

    So much of it depends on the flexibility of your current employer. Are you in a full-time job where you can self-schedule around your school commitments? In school, your class and clinical commitments are completely out of your hands. You can't adjust the times or dates, so you have to adjust your life to work around class and clinicals. I know I've heard of people on AN working full time during school, but I haven't personally seen it (and I think that many schools flat out forbid it, although it would be hard for them to enforce).
    You make a good point and the poster presumably has her work schedule worked out as she is starting school in one month. Even so, it will be a challenge but I'd hate to see her not try. This from a single Mom of 3 children with no child support and no nearby family who went to LVN school quickly followed by an RN ADN program. People thought I couldn't make it, either.
  5. by   Chrispy11
    Quote from adventure_rn
    I like Nurse Beth, but I don't know if I agree that determination and aptitude are enough.

    So much of it depends on the flexibility of your current employer. Are you in a full-time job where you can self-schedule around your school commitments? In school, your class and clinical commitments are completely out of your hands. You can't adjust the times or dates, so you have to adjust your life to work around class and clinicals. I know I've heard of people on AN working full time during school, but I haven't personally seen it (and I think that many schools flat out forbid it, although it would be hard for them to enforce).
    Very true. I had to resign from a full-time position because they couldn't work with my clinical schedule. School assigned clinicals by lottery and there was no changing allowed. I wound up going somewhere that would work around my schedule and that was only part-time. One semester had varying clinical days. The last semester... I would have never passed if I hadn't stopped working. It was that much work.

    Best of luck to you.
  6. by   adventure_rn
    Quote from Nurse Beth
    You make a good point and the poster presumably has her work schedule worked out as she is starting school in one month. Even so, it will be a challenge but I'd hate to see her not try. This from a single Mom of 3 children with no child support and no nearby family who went to LVN school quickly followed by an RN ADN program. People thought I couldn't make it, either.
    I understand what you're saying and I agree that she shouldn't give up on her goal. However, I think it's important that the OP understand the logistical challenges of scheduling around clinicals so that she can have a contingency plan in place. When I started school, I had very little understanding of how clinical rotations were scheduled, nor did I realize how paramount attendance was (i.e. the concept that you could fail or have to repeat a class by missing a single clinical). For some of our clinical rotations, especially the capstone-type rotations where you work your preceptor's schedule instead of a predictable weekly date with a clinical instructor, we didn't find out our schedules until a few weeks in advance. It's possible that the OP already understands how her program's clinicals will work in relation to her work schedule, but as a new nursing student, it's also possible that she doesn't. That's part of the reason some schools explicitly prohibit working full time during the program (although it isn't very enforceable).

    In my opinion, the worst possible scenario would be for the OP to get in over her head and then either fail out of her program, lose her job, or both (related either to attendance/scheduling issues or simply due to suboptimal performance with so many responsibilities). I'd advise the OP to stick with her current plan, but to understand and make provisions for alternative routes if she needs to (i.e. having a game plan to reschedule work obligations around clinicals if needed, taking out student loans if needed, dropping down to part-time if needed, slowing down the progression of her courses if needed).

    I admire people who work full time through their nursing programs since it is a difficult feat. However, I think that it is totally appropriate for the OP to be anxious about juggling so many responsibilities. If she's having specific concerns, it would be a great opportunity to come up with some strategies to address those issues before they become a problem.

    Nurse Beth, since you share a similar personal experience, maybe it would be helpful for the OP (or any other prospective students) if you shared some actionable tips on what helped you to stay on track when you were balancing school with work and home.
  7. by   AnnieNP
    OP, In over 20 years of experience I have seen many people work full time and go to school. It won't be easy but it can be done. Having a good support network and work flexibility will help. Coffee is important too!! Good luck.
  8. by   Kallie3006
    I was in fast track A&P 1 & 2, my water broke, with my youngest, 5 minutes into my first A&P 2 lab practical. I stayed and finished, best teacher expression ever BTW and the fact it was April fools day didn't help my first telling him. This happened on a Thursday and I was back in class the following Monday. (Apparently this story has been used in the following classes to "demonstrate" the pace and necessity of attendance). I was a single mom of a 5 year old and newborn and lived on my own.
    I worked full time during the program, as a bartender, and I was able to work my schedule around my classes and clinicals. I was actually working lunch the day i found out i passed boards ( that would have been a really crappy shift if the results were different).

    I made it through the program, single mom, working full time. I had an amazing support system, which was my blessing and saving grace.

    I recorded lectures and listened to them driving. My 5 year old was my partner studying. By the end of practicing assessments ect she was doing them better than me. This also helped with some of the guilt I carried, because of the time consuming tasks of school was a lot. Using her with studying allowed me to still spend time with her, and correcting her assisted with my retention of the skills. We played school as well, she helped me make quizzes and was so tickled at being able to "grade" me. This helped me with the ones I missed, her giggling because I was wrong gave me an association to fall on during tests.

    I would make note cards and laminate them, they would stick on the shower walls when they got wet.

    At least once a week my oldest would pick something to do, game night, movies, ect.

    Its doable, and you can make it work if you want it bad enough. Just remember school is temporary.

    Best of luck!
  9. by   Kitiger
    If you can do it, more power to you.

    I know that some can work full-time and go to school full-time, but I would not be one of them. I sleep 8 hours/night, and more if I can get it. When I get 9 or 10 hours sleep, I wake up singing! If I only get 6 or 7 hours/night ongoing, I typically end up sick.

    Before you say that I don't really need that much sleep, consider this. Some do well on only 6 or 7 hours of sleep/night ongoing. Logically, some of us must need more, since the average person needs 7 or 8 hours sleep/night.

    Others have pointed out how difficult it can be to mesh the two schedules, and they are right. The school schedule MUST come first, and the boss at work is not always OK with that.

    Be sure you have contingency plans in place.
  10. by   Lil Nel
    I worked full-time while undertaking an ADN program.

    It helped that I am single, with no children, but nonetheless, required a great deal of time management on my part.

    I was enrolled in a night program, so it helped having classes and clinicals at night, or on Saturday.

    There were students in my program with children, who made it through.

    Good luck.

    It can be done.
  11. by   DallasRN
    I agree with much of the other information provided and have just one thought to ad.

    I had just read another Nurse Beth response in which asking for help was mentioned. Well, as you pursue your education - and working, school, family responsibilities will be difficult, no doubt - ask for help. From friends, neighbors, relatives, the kids if old enough...

    We nurses are frequently bad about asking for help. Child care, grocery shopping, running a few errands, help with household chores...instead of a Christmas gift, ask for a week of freezer meals, etc. We adults sometimes need a village, too.
    Last edit by DallasRN on Nov 4 : Reason: Spelling
  12. by   booter512
    You don't say whether you have kids or not. If not, this is what I would do: I would try to cut to part time, or just enough to have health insurance. If not possible, I'd quit and find another part time job. Then, I'd apply for every grant and scholarship available. I'd take out loans for the rest. Presumably, you'll graduate and pass your boards. Then, I'd apply for jobs that will pay off your loans. I'd look at jobs on reservations, in Alaska, etc. The Native American hospitals (last I checked) will pay up to $80,000 of your school loans off for a 3-5 year commitment. I did some of my student clinicals in Shiprock, NM. I had some truly wonderful experiences. Try to get your BSN. With government hospitals, your pay will be a lot more. If you are convinced that you can't move after becoming an RN, check with local hospitals. Also, make sure this is really what you want to do. Are you working day shift now? When you become an RN, you most likely will be working 12 hour nights. Is that ok? If you really want to be an RN, there are ways to do it. But think it through first.

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