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Michelle

Working While in Nursing School? Things to Consider

There is no simple answer to this question, nor is the answer the same for each student. When considering whether working while in nursing school is right for you there are numerous factors which you need to consider. Be aware that you may need to reconsider your decision at different times throughout your training.

Financial Situation

One very important factor in this decision is your current financial situation. Can you support yourself and attend school without any ongoing income? This will vary greatly for each individual based on their savings, financial aid, scholarships, living arrangements, necessities and additional financial responsibilities. A young student living at home who has received a full scholarship is in a very different place then a single parent who has decided to return to school while still supporting a family. Looking at your current expenses and creating monthly budget, may help you better understand where you stand from a financial point of view. Also, you should evaluate your current support system, as for working in itself may require you to hire a babysitter or pay additional travel costs which add to your expenses and may negate the amount earned.

Ability to Multitask

Multitasking

You need to consider your strengths and weaknesses. Are you the type of person who can multitask or do you become easily overwhelmed when trying to handle multiple responsibilities at once. Your main goal right now is to , so that needs to be your priority. If adding on additional responsibilities will negatively impact your success, then working should not be considered. You can always look into other potential financial resources. For others, they are able to handle multiple responsibilities and they actually deal better when having to stay on a very structured schedule. I prefer to be very busy, as for I get more done because when I have free time I procrastinate.

Program Requirements

Throughout your training in nursing school, the demands often vary from year to year, or semester to semester. When taking a very intense course or completing your clinical rotations, you may need to consider those factors and adjust accordingly. For example, you may have to work less or not at all during certain phases of your training. Always research in advance the requirements of the program so that you can be prepared to make adjustments in your personal life. Your nursing program has been developed with the goal of preparing you to succeed as a nurse and to pass your NCLEX-RN exam. If you have specific questions, academic advisers are usually on hand to assist and guide you.

Working During Nursing School

If you decide to work while attending nursing school, there are a few things to consider. Find an employer who is willing to be flexible with your schedule, as for your availability will change each semester. You may also need to work less when you have exams or clinical rotations so try and plan ahead and have ongoing discussions with your employers. When considering a job, don’t just think about the income, but will the position make you a better candidate for a nursing position in the future. For example, if you work as a nurse intern or nursing assistant, you will have the opportunity to network with nurses and possibly be considered for a registered nurse position sooner than your fellow students. Many institutions try to hire and promote from within, plus they will already be familiar with your work ethic. While in nursing school, I worked at a medical office as a medical assistant and as a nursing assistant at a combined psych hospital and nursing home. My experiences and contacts certainly helped me obtain and succeed at my first nursing position, but I also had a strong support system, lived home and had minimal other responsibilities. I was also determined to have no student loans, and therefore I was very driven to work throughout school. Thankfully, I am able to multitask and deal with many demands at once. If working is overwhelming, remember you need to focus on succeeding on becoming a nurse so step back and re-evaluate how you should best proceed.

Volunteering

American Red Cross EMT Scott Gay listens to the heartbeat of Katelyn Palmer, 7 months old, at the Red Cross shelter in Belk Activity Center, Tuscaloosa, AL. Photo: Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross

Red Cross Volunteer checking a 7 month old

If you were considering working primarily to have experiences on your resume to enhance your opportunity to find your first nursing position, consider a volunteer opportunity. Volunteer opportunities vary greatly in time commitment and tend to be much more flexible than a job. Hospitals and charities are always looking for help and again this will provide you with numerous networking channels.

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