Nursing can be an excellent career. Top-level nurses make six-figure salaries, some can even open their own clinics, and they can be hired in a variety of settings (medical and not). To become a high-level nurse, however, takes many, many years of dedication. Most nurses today don’t take time off from their careers to tackle their nursing education in a full-time capacity, either.
This is because working while you study allows you to financially support yourself and your loved ones.
It’s a great way forward, but it does mean that your education takes longer. Therefore, you need to know how to successfully manage the juggle between your career, education, and personal life.
Not everything is going to make it. There will be appointments you miss, days you will need to take off, and so on. The important thing is to follow this guide and to go at your own pace.
How to Choose the Best Nursing Program for You
The right nursing program can make a world of difference to your experience, so narrow down your application list to the top options before you get started. There is a huge backlog of students, of course, so if you don’t get accepted the first time, just apply for the next intake, and so on. But, on the other hand, if you have the qualifications, then it is only a matter of time.
Ensure it is Accredited
The first thing you will need to do is ensure that the degree or program in question is accredited. Nursing isn’t like other degrees where accreditation is nice but not essential. If your nursing program is not accredited, you will not be allowed to take the licensing exam.
Is It Easy to Get Your Placement?
You should be given a Placement Specialist who can and will help you get placed for your clinic hours. It isn’t just about finding the first place that says yes, but the best place for your specific career interests.
What Support Does it Offer?
The university itself should offer a range of Support to help you with your degree and also with your mental health. Working in a demanding career while studying for a demanding degree, is far from easy. Therefore, you need a strong support system, and that support system must extend to your nursing college.
How Does it Rank?
Though overall ranking isn’t the be-all and end-all, take a look at student satisfaction and the number of graduates who could find work shortly after graduation in their new role. Rankings can help you understand the overall impact a nursing institution has and help you make the right decision if you choose between them.
Who Are the Faculty?
Admiring and respecting the people who will be teaching you isn’t essential, but it does make a big difference. This is particularly true if your nursing goals are less than traditional. Also, if you learn from someone else who was a nurse in the working environment you are aiming for, their help and guidance can help you with your own goals.
Understand the General Career Path for a Nurse
For the most part, you will want to work your way up to become an APRN. The good news is that, until you go for your MSN, there really isn’t that much you need to consider beyond getting into a great program. Once you are ready for that MSN, however, you have choices.
There are many different kinds of APRNs, so much so that they fall into one of four main umbrella types: nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists.
Nurse Practitioners work directly with patients. They diagnose, they treat, and they prescribe medication. One of the most popular types of NP nurses is the Family Nurse Practitioner.
It is important to note that, though you can work to become an FNP directly, for example, you can make adjustments later on. Just as there is an MSN-FNP program, there is also a PMC-FNP or Post-Master’s Certificate Family Nurse Practitioner. What this means, which you can learn more about on this website, is that you can study and qualify to be an FNP nurse, even if you have a different MSN specialization.
Know Where You Can Work as a Nurse
There are so many places where you can work as a nurse:
- Research Companies
- And more
The fact is, wherever health is a priority, there will be nurses. You can work on a movie set or in the white house. You can work as a researcher or with a research team. So long as there is money and a need for a nurse, there is a career opportunity for you.
Tips on How to Succeed with an Ongoing Nursing Education
However, to reach those interesting, well-paid roles, you will need to become an RN, and ideally, an APRN. This requires many years of ongoing education while you continue to work in your role as a nurse. To help you succeed with that juggle, you will want to use these tips:
Prioritize Your Health
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that your health will always be your priority. This means eating a balanced diet, exercising enough, stretching enough, and sleeping enough. Sleep deprivation can impact your job quality and your ability to learn and memorize. The same happens when you don’t eat enough or not enough nutrients.
A healthy, strong body is more capable of handling the juggle. In fact, it is the only way to handle the juggle. Anything less, and you’ll burn out, and even before you burn out, your work and efforts will be half-hearted at best.
Put your health first, build those routines into your every day, and you will be consistently better prepared to handle juggling a career and an ongoing nursing education.
Care for Your Mental Health
Though improving your physical health will be beneficial to your mental health, it is far from a cure-all. If you suffer from mental health illness or serious symptoms like anxiety, you must address these in advance. You don’t have to cure them, but having several tools to help you adapt and cope with your mental illness can help you juggle your career, your education, and the stresses of both.
Build the Necessary Routines in Advance
New routines are exhausting because you don’t yet know the best, most energy-efficient means to do the tasks in question. Though you cannot prep for a degree, you can get used to learning, taking notes, and the routine itself.
Spend the time you will eventually set aside for yourself to work on your degree learning. This can be something that relates to your career, or it can be something entirely unrelated. The important thing is that you learn, engage with those areas of your brain, and get used to the extended workday.
Know-How You Learn
It’s a great idea to understand how you learn best before you get started with your degree. For example, some are visual learners, others are action learners, some are audible learners. Figure out what type of learner you are and how you can use that knowledge to better absorb the information at hand.
This does take more effort, but it will help you memorize and understand the curriculum. It is your best path for success.
Give Yourself Breaks
Regular breaks are a key part of productivity, but only when they are done as part of your routine. Pushing yourself until you can’t anymore and not put in the same amount of effort for days is not conducive to your goals.
Instead, build breaks into your study routine. First, for every twenty minutes, take a short break. Then, for every hour, give yourself a 20-minute break. These breaks help keep your brain from fatiguing and help you better understand the information being presented to you.
Pace Yourself Appropriately
Generally speaking, the best way to succeed with an ongoing nursing education is to tackle as few courses at a time as you are allowed. This does mean it will take you longer to finish your degree, yes, but if you can do both things well, you are setting yourself up for future success.
You will be able to work better and position yourself career-wise on the right path. Similarly, you will be able to learn and perform better at your education. If you find it easy to handle one course at a time, then you can try two, but overall remember: it’s better to find it easy to juggle a career and a degree than too hard. If it feels easy, it means you will be able to do it all without reaching a breaking point.
Working while studying is all about pacing yourself, not sprinting. You can do everything better by taking your time, from your personal life to your career, so take care.