Further education is an important part of nursing and can help you take your career to the next level. However, it’s not always practical for students to study fulltime without having an income. For these students and others with demands such as caring for a family member, they have to find a way to balance their studies with their other commitments.
This isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly manageable, with millions of students opting to take this route. What’s important is that you find the schedule that works for you and makes sure you get the most out of your education while still thriving at work.
These six tips can help you achieve that balance and plan your nursing degree around a busy working schedule.
You want to be as prepared for success as possible, and that means making sure you start planning early. There are all sorts of different nursing courses out there and different class schedules you can take on, so give yourself time to choose the right one.
There’s a lot of flexibility in nursing degrees these days, with online courses being a great option for students who are planning to continue working. The best part about these courses is you can study at the highest levels with programs such as DNP nursing leadership courses.
However, even with online classes, it’s not going to be easy, and you’ve still got to make sure you’re planning your schedule and taking into account your other commitments. The better fit your program is, the better chance you have of doing a great job in both your studies and your work.
Practice Your Time Management Skills
Time management is a skill, and just like any other skills, the more you practice, the better you become. You’ve got lots of opportunities to practice your time management skills throughout your day to day life, and this can really prepare you for when you start your degree.
A simple way to break down your time management is into these four simple steps:
1: Manage – short term crises and problems
2: Focus – on strategic goals
3: Avoid – distractions and interruptions
4: Limit – time-wasting activities
At first, you might find it particularly difficult to get the most out of your time, but that’s why you should start practicing as soon as possible. With time and continued effort, everyone can master time management and make sure they’ve got the skills they need to balance work and studies.
No matter what you’re trying to achieve success in, goal setting can help. These not only give us a clear sense of what we want to achieve but are also a great tool to help us motivate ourselves.
There are going to be days where you find balancing work with your nursing career extremely difficult, and occasionally it will feel like it’s all too much. However, when you’ve got clear goals, you’ve always got a reason to get out of bed, and you can easily look back on how far you’ve come.
To get the most success from your goals, you want to make sure they’re SMART. This means they’re:
- Specific – they’re clear and give you a good idea of exactly what you’re trying to achieve.
- Measurable – you have ways of measuring how you’re performing against your goals.
- Achievable – You may be pretty great, but there’s a limit to what anyone can achieve
- Relevant – Make sure it’s relevant to what you’re trying to achieve
- Time-Bound – Give yourself a timeframe in which you want to achieve your goals.
If you’re setting effective goals, then you should always have some goals that you’re close to attaining and others to work towards further in the future. This really helps in keeping your performance up throughout your nursing degree.
Professors understand that people lead complicated lives and that sometimes, a little flexibility is needed in education. Your professors are there to aid your learning, and if that means being flexible, then they will try their best to accommodate you.
However, if you’re not communicating with them, then they don’t know your situation and can’t help. If you’re ever struggling, then you should look to speak to your professor because they can help, and they do care.
The more open you can be in your communication with your professors, the easier you will find the process. Once you get used to this, it’s an easy step, but it can take a little bit of time to master.
You can’t always do everything, and there are times when you’re going to have to say “no” to doing something you’d dearly love to do. Sacrifices will have to be made, but the important thing is to remember why you’re doing this in the first place. If you keep your goals in mind, then it becomes a little less painful to make the sacrifices.
You’re going to have a lot of demands on your time, so find a way to prioritize each task and make sure you’re getting the most important things done.
It’s also important to remember that while your work and studies are important, there needs to be a balance. It’s not all about the number of hours you work/study, it’s about the quality of those hours, and you’ve got to give yourself some breaks to get the most out of yourself. If you completely neglect everything else but work/studying, then it’s likely to have a negative effect on your output.
Just because you’re taking on a big challenge in studying for your nursing degree while working doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be aiming high. If you set up the right schedule and become adept at time management, then there’s no reason why you can’t achieve top grades and also excel at work.
Do those students who don’t work have it a bit easier? Undoubtedly, but that shouldn’t mean you can’t do just as good a job with some extra hard work.