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How to effectively study and hold down a full-time job

How do you find the time to study when holding down a full-time job? After a long day at work, studying is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Many learners who are in this boat share how unfocused they are when studying. Some have even mentioned how unmotivated they are to really understand the concepts and rush through studying. It soon becomes a game of remembering concepts just so it can be regurgitated back on the test and then forgotten.


That is not the way to study or learn, and will do you more harm than good. So much time and effort goes into your education, so don’t do yourself an injustice and slide on through nursing school.


Being prepared for nursing school as a full-time employee takes some additional effort. If you are looking for tips on working and attending school simultaneously, check out our part article Get a Nursing Degree while Working: Is it Possible? then refer back to this article to review the studying portion.

For those who are considering attending nursing school while working, take time to concentrate on what it really takes to be a nursing learner. Don’t get us wrong, it is possible to do both. We have seen it done. But let us help you prepare for juggling both so it no longer will be a one-person circus act, but you’ll have a whole crew supporting you.

Once you have solidified your plan of action and are mentally prepared, the next step is to learn how to successfully study when time is not on your side as you are focused on online class, and bouncing from simulation lab to clinicals. Studying often gets put on the back burner and is overlooked. Nursing school requires a significant amount of studying to stay on top of class material. Here are our top tips we recommend:

Create a routine study schedule. Even if your work schedule changes, it is important to stick to a routine that you designed. A study schedule that works well for one person may not benefit another. Studying a little every day is recommended as it helps cement concepts in your mind. Take an hour or two in the morning, over lunch, or before bed to review recent class material and to reread sections in the assigned textbook. Every day you are giving yourself a refresher.

Join a study group. First off, study groups are not for everyone. If you find no value in study groups, then do waste time joining one (and see the next point). Focus on studying techniques that work. For those that benefit from study groups, find a few members in your cohort and schedule a time to meet. Again, it is about creating a set study schedule. Be each other’s support and use the time to ask questions, clarify concepts for another group member, or to be around likeminded individuals. Sometimes knowing that you are not alone is the motivation needed.

Discover your studying niche. Time is wasted on useless studying techniques that are of no benefit. We focus a good portion on steering learners towards more useful studying techniques that fit their learning style. Explore the various studying techniques such as using colors to differentiate concepts, recording yourself “teaching” the subject, and using mind maps.  As one of the more important recommendations, if time is an issue, stop and consider if your current study methods are on point.

Be open with your employer. Some may shy away from letting their employer know, but being open with your employer about your goal of finishing nursing school or completing the RN to BSN Program will give you peace of mind. Invested employers will cheer you along and may even end up as a helpful resource. Another benefit to sharing your goal with your boss is that as job positions become available, you may be lucky enough to secure the position upon graduation with the recommendation from your boss, which may not have been possible if you did not share your future aspirations.

Be accountable. Holding yourself accountable for your progress is the key to success. Only you are responsible for passing the class, acing the skills pass off, and even showing up on time. Be accountable for sticking to your set study schedule, and do not place fault with others. Finding the time to study while working requires dedication that only you are responsible for. Always be accountable for your success, and in nursing school, that requires continuous studying.

It is unbelievable to see the hard work learners put in who are insistent on succeeding in nursing school and maintaining a job. However, it is not easy. Learning to study correctly will help you use time wisely.

Need further help in the realm of studying? Visit with our Learner Advising and Life Resources (LALR) Department.

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