Get a Nursing Degree While Working: Is It Possible?

By: Yvette Ross, MSN, MBA, RN, Dean of Nursing

Remember the circus act of balancing plates on sticks? Well, pursuing a nursing degree while working can be just as complex. Because work and school are major commitments, proper time management and scheduling are vital to your success. It is also equally important to have in place contingency plans for any unforeseen obstacles that may arise.

Start exploring the feasibility of attending nursing school while working by following these steps:

1. Begin by researching nursing programs that offer the greatest amount of flexibility for working adults. There are several types of pre-licensure Registered Nurse (RN) programs:

  • Diploma RN programs are the shortest, with 4 semesters of studies, but are not as prevalent as the others.
  • Associates Degree Nursing (ADN) programs require 5 to 6 semesters of school attendance. Some offer instruction year-round while others operate on traditional Fall/Spring academic calendars.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs are normally 8 semesters long.
  • LPN/LVN-to-RN associate degree bridge programs shorten time to completion to 2-3 semesters.

2. Discuss your desire to become a nurse with immediate family members, i.e. spouse/life partner, children, and parents. Ask for their commitment to your future endeavor in nursing education. You will have less time to spend with these important individuals but will rely, like never before, on their emotional, domestic, and, at times, financial support.

3. Have an open conversation with your supervisor and/or HR department about advancing your education. If you are employed in a health care setting, ask about tuition reimbursement, balancing work and school schedules, working hours reduction programs, loan forgiveness, and references to others in the organization who have successfully managed simultaneous work and school responsibilities.

4. Speak to the nursing department at the school you wish to attend. Ask whether there are limitations to the number of hours per week that you would be able to work and the expectations of weekly time commitment for school work. Some schools may have rules preventing you from working while attending school. Clearly understand the requirements for lectures, labs, simulations, clinicals, and personal study. A good rule to follow: for every semester credit hour, approximately 30 minutes of outside preparation are required per week.

5. Schedule an appointment with a financial aid advisor at the school you wish to attend and explore all available financial assistance options for paying for your education, which might include federal and state grants, federal loans, personal loans, scholarships, and other programs.

6. Make a financial plan that includes any out-of-pocket school expenses, including tuition payments, living expenses, transportation and, possibly, overnight costs of commuting to clinicals that may be far away. Adjust this financial plan based on working full-time, part-time, or not working and evaluate the possibilities.

7. Make a list of all your personal and living expenses and think about which ones you could temporarily eliminate. It is important to categorize your spending into must have and nice to have and plan accordingly.

The decision to enroll into a nursing program should not be made lightly. Success in a nursing program requires major emotional, financial, and time commitments. However, continuing your education and becoming an RN will have a great lasting impact on your career and life. Rest assured that many students who have come before you succeeded in balancing working with attending a nursing school and it is a possibility for you. Start the next chapter in your life today.

Am I Too Old to Become a Nurse?

By: Yvette Ross, MSN, MBA, RN, Dean of Nursing

This is the question many prospective students, who have been either displaced from the workforce or are considering a change in career paths, ask me. The same inquiry also comes from individuals who have raised families or retired from active duty and are presented with

the opportunity to pursue a long postponed dream. But whatever the situation, age should not be the deciding factor against choosing nursing as a career. Both younger and older learners be 44.5 years in 2012. Furthermore, nurses who are 50 years and older comprise the majority of the nursing workforce in the United States. These data show that the older nursing student will practice shoulder to shoulder with other nursing professionals within the same age group.

Individuals who enter the nursing profession years after high school have a unique perspective because of the focused passion for learning, effective time management, organizational know how, and refined soft skills. The common stressors that often impact the younger generation may not affect the older learner. In addition, the essential critical thinking and decision making skills may be better developed in an older learner because of the richer life and work experiences.

When considering the next career path do not pass on nursing because of age. Embracing and bringing one’s life experiences will undoubtedly enhance your journey into the noble profession of nursing. Your future awaits!

Public Notice: Accreditation review visit by the NLNAC has been changed

Nightingale College wishes to announce that it has changed

the dates for the site review for initial accreditation of its Associate Degree Nursing Program.

The general public was invited to meet the visiting team and share comments about the College’s program. The meeting was scheduled for January 23, 2013

at 3:00 p.m. at Nightingale College located at 4155 Harrison Blvd., Ogden, Utah. This has been cancelled. Further notice will be posted on our website with the rescheduled date and location.

Thanks for your continual support of Nightingale College!