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Whether you are pursuing your BSN, MSN, or even a doctorate degree in nursing—you will be dedicating a fair amount of your time and resources to higher education to achieve your nursing career goals. Because of this, you may also be taking on some debt or working to pay your way through school. After all, the cost of a bachelor’s degree in nursing from a public university could range from $40,000 – $80,000.

Many nursing students who have already become registered nurses (RNs) end up working and attending nursing school simultaneously. Doing so allows them to offset some of the cost of continuing education while accumulating some valuable experience in the field.

Of course, working as an RN can be demanding—and if you are not carefully balancing your work and school commitments, both could suffer. This is why it is so important to understand not only what to expect when juggling full-time work and nursing school but how to manage these vital commitments.

Is It Possible to Work Full-Time While in Nursing School?

Simply put, yes: It is absolutely possible to work full time while in nursing school. In fact, many people who plan to pursue their BSN, MSN, or DNP in nursing obtain their RN license early on so that they can work in the field while they are in school. The registered nurse license is often required for most graduate nursing degree programs.

The most important thing to understand is that balancing full-time work and school requires a great deal of discipline and time management. As challenging as this juggling act can be, it is a temporary sacrifice. If you are able to successfully work as you complete your nursing program, you could be better positioned for long-term career success.

Nursing School and a Full-Time Job: A Mutually Beneficial Approach

In fact, it can be helpful to consider some of the specific benefits you could enjoy when you work as an RN full-time while completing your nursing program. In addition to gaining valuable work experience, you may also enjoy incredible networking opportunities and some extra money to pay your way through school.

Building Your Resume With Hands-On Experience

You will do your fair share of studying in nursing school. However, working as an RN while you are in school gives you a unique opportunity to practice some of the same concepts you are learning about in your program. Likewise, you will be able to put your work experience as an RN on your resume, potentially expanding your job prospects and making you a more competitive candidate than nursing school graduates without prior experience.

Financial Benefits

Working full-time through nursing school also comes with some financial advantages, allowing you to make money while you complete your formal degree program. Nursing school can come with financial responsibilities—so having a steady income from a full-time job can help you offset some of your college expenses while also helping with the everyday costs of living. When you work full-time throughout your degree program, you may be able to pay your way through school and take out fewer loans (which means less money paid in interest over time).

Networking Opportunities

Working in the field while you are a nursing student can open up opportunities for networking. Whether you work in a hospital, long-term care facility, or in any other healthcare setting—you will have the opportunity to forge professional relationships that can work to your advantage once you graduate. Likewise, your time in school will allow you to network with well-known professors, medical professionals, and other scholars. These relationships could pay off big time when you finish your degree program and are looking for a rewarding nursing job.

How to Get a Nursing Degree While Working Full Time

While working full-time while pursuing a nursing degree can be challenging, it is feasible with the proper foresight and motivation. Here are some practical tips to keep in mind when it comes to attending nursing school and working full time.

Develop a Strong Support System

Start by ensuring that you have a strong network of friends and family members that you can rely on when you need them most. A solid support system can make all the difference when it comes to getting through school while working full-time. Your loved ones will want you to succeed and, if you ask, will likely take steps to help you achieve your goals.

This may mean, for example, asking a trusted family member for childcare assistance so you can focus on studying for a few hours each week. However, it could also be as simple as having a loved one encourage you and motivate you when you are feeling overwhelmed. Before you embark on your degree program, take the time to sit down with your closest loved ones and explain to them what your goals are and why this is so important to you. You do not have to go it alone.

Prioritize Your Health

When you have a lot on your plate, it can be easy to take the focus off your own health and wellness. On a hectic workday followed by a night of studying, it may be tempting to swing by the drive-thru window rather than prepare a healthy meal at home. Likewise, getting adequate sleep may prove challenging when you have so much going on with work and school. These practices can be beneficial in your nursing career for continued employment on particularly stressful days. Prioritizing your health is huge while studying, but even the best jobs have off days, so remember these tips for more stressful work days.

Take proactive measures to protect your health by stocking up on nutritious snacks you can enjoy during study breaks, creating (and following) a sleep schedule, and setting aside even a small amount of time for exercise each day.


Declutter and Get Organized

It is hard to study or stay on top of your other life obligations if you are disorganized. Make sure you have a decluttered space set up somewhere in your home that you can dedicate to studying and completing your coursework. This space should be free of mess and distractions, providing a calming space where you can focus on your studies each day. Many nursing students who are working full-time also find it helpful to use a paper or digital planner to help them stay organized and on track with school deadlines, exam dates, work shifts, and other important dates.

Be Open and Gain Your Employer’s Support

There is no reason to keep it a secret from your employer that you are attending nursing school. This is especially true if you are already working as an RN and trying to expand your skills as a healthcare professional. You might be surprised by just how supportive your employer is when you are open about your educational goals. Whether it is scheduling your shift around an important exam or giving you an occasional day off to help you recharge, the support of your employer could make all the difference when you are working your way through nursing school.

Make the Most of Available Resources

When you are working as an RN, you have access to a variety of resources that can help you through your education. For example, be sure to take advantage of hospital librarians who can help you find information for a research project. Your nursing school may also offer tutoring, study groups, and other student services. Likewise, you can turn to other nurses that you work with – they are valuable sources of information (and inspiration). You never know what you may be able to learn from a fellow nurse who has been in your shoes!

Celebrate Your Accomplishments Along the Way

Whether you are attending school part-time or full-time, it is essential to set milestones for yourself throughout your degree program—and to celebrate when you achieve them. For instance, you might consider rewarding yourself for passing an exam with a small treat or a night out with friends. Celebrating smaller accomplishments can give you the motivation you need to keep going, so there is no need to wait until graduation to reward yourself for your hard work!

Practice and Apply New Skills at Work

Nursing programs are designed to help nurses develop more than just clinical skills. In fact, the right degree program will teach you critical soft skills, ranging from collaboration and problem-solving to communication and more. As you acquire these skills in the classroom, it is vital to put them into practice. Your work as an RN provides the perfect opportunity to do just that. By applying new clinical skills and soft skills from your degree program to your actual work in the field, you will provide the best quality care to your patients and will be a more valuable asset at your job.

Take Advantage of Online Nursing Programs

Perhaps one of the best things you can do for yourself if you are planning to work and attend nursing school at the same time is to enroll in an online nursing program. By attending an online program as opposed to one that meets in person on a physical campus, you will have access to the same quality education without the need to commute to a classroom. This can save you a lot of your time (which is already limited) while cutting down on transportation and other related costs.

It is important to understand, however, that not all online nursing programs are created equal. Take time to do your research and find a program that is not only accredited but well suited for your specific lifestyle needs and long-term career goals.

Embark on Your Nursing Degree Journey Today

Whether you are beginning your undergrad nursing studies or starting on a graduate degree, working your way through nursing school may not be a walk in the park. With these tips and best practices in mind, you will be better prepared to juggle the demands of both. From there, you can complete your degree program with confidence while gaining valuable experience and forging powerful connections in the nursing field.

Choosing the right nursing school can also make all the difference when it comes to balancing your work, school, and personal obligations. At Post University’s American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Sciences, we have been supporting hardworking nursing students and healthcare professionals for more than 15 years with quality degree programs in a flexible online setting. Learn more about our post-licensure nursing program offerings or reach out to us directly to learn more! Then, start your application to get the ball rolling.


Please note jobs and/or career outcomes highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs or career outcomes expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and its outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions advisor.


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