Tips for Working and Going to Nursing School

Tips for Working and Going to Nursing School

Going to nursing school is challenging enough, but when you are trying to juggle your studies with making a living, it sometimes seems like you are swimming against a very strong tide. Just as you get ahead, you are knocked back by another big project or some extra hours at work.

If you are trying to be the best student possible and a great employee at the same time, you have to set some priorities to make sure you can do both.

1. Plan Ahead

Part of managing work and school successfully is anticipating what your schedule might hold. At the start of classes, enter all the information your professors give you into a calendar system. Choose whatever system works for you, but just make sure you use it. Add any work you know about and any planned doctors’ appointments, vacation days you plan to take, or any other commitments you have.

2. Reassess Each Week

Every week is going to be different when you are working and going to school. Some weeks you are going to have more responsibilities at work and other weeks are going to require you to focus on your studies (finals week, anyone?). At the start of each week, look at what’s coming so you can decide what’s going to take the most time or energy. Plan accordingly so you can accommodate the extra time where it’s needed.

3. Plan for Some Give and Take

So you know finals week is going to be a monster and any schools days off (like spring break week) are going to help your workload. See if you can plan to take a couple of days off around finals or take on extra work during break times. Work with your employer ahead of time to see if you can make any arrangements that will help you and them.

4. Schedule Your Days

Working and going to school successfully requires you to make every single minute count. Plan your day right down to the minute for a few weeks to see how you can arrange your time. It sounds like overkill, but it’s actually a great way to show you how you use your time and also to show you how to manage your time.

5. Fit in Down Time

If you have your time planned right, you can also see where you can fit in time for yourself. If you are a working student, you will need time to decompress so you don’t get burned out. Block off a couple hours to go to a movie with a friend, go to bed an hour earlier, take an exercise class, watch a favorite television show, or just catch up on reading. Write it into your schedule just like you would class time or work hours.

6. Be Honest

Don’t try to hide your dual status, but don’t expect any breaks from it either. Professors generally aren’t swayed by work responsibilities cutting into class efforts, and your boss likely won’t want to hear you were late to work because you were up so late studying. Be honest with yourself about what you can realistically do. Maybe you need to reduce your school or work schedule if either one is suffering. When you are at either place, you want to be able to give it 100 percent. If you can’t, you aren’t going to be successful in either place.

Working and going to nursing school is possible but requires discipline and dedicated planning. As your time management skills improve, you might find you have more time on your hands.

Surviving Your First Nursing Mistake

Surviving Your First Nursing Mistake

If you’ve been a working nurse for more than one shift I guarantee you’ve made a mistake. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.  Making mistakes is part of human nature and nurses take them to heart with good reason. Not all mistakes made are created equal, but we can learn from them all.

When a person decides to become a nurse they take on a tremendous amount of responsibility. The first job can cause anxiety and in turn, errors can be made. Sometimes they are made simply because you don’t know what you don’t know as a new graduate. Nurses are typically moving at fast paces and being bombarded by multiple demands and requests…this potentially sets one up for missteps in care.

If you make a mistake I’m here to tell you that you will survive. As a seasoned nurse, I want to tell you that even we make mistakes! I’ve made many mistakes over the course of my career and you know what? I’ve learned from them all. You may be upset, embarrassed or saddened that you did so, but those feelings will pass. In place of those feelings you will have learned a valuable lesson and I bet you will never make the same mistake twice.

The act of making a mistake as a nurse is a humbling experience.  When a mistake is made reflect on what happened to cause it and what can be done to prevent it in the future. Report the error to your management team (no matter how scary this seems!) so they can also do investigation on the cause. Management is not there to punish you like some may believe. They are concerned about patient safety just as much as you are.

Experienced nurses, can you remember the first mistake you make as a nurse? How did it happen and what did you learn for your future practice?