Balancing Work and Nursing School

Here are nine strategies to achieve balance between work, nursing school and life.

nurse blue scrubs

Most of us know all too well the challenges that go along with maintaining the vital balance between our job and life. Add to that mix the energy needed to continue your nursing studies, and you may find yourself in a non-stop juggling act.

If you have decided to go back to nursing school—for career advancement or personal achievement—consider these nine strategies for finding balance and enjoying life in the midst of this potentially chaotic, but exciting time.

1. Organize Your Space

Set up a place in your home dedicated to your studies, whether a desk in a home office or a card table and chair in the living room. Use it to house your computer, books, supplies and other materials essential to your nursing studies. Knowing you have a space reserved just for school work will improve your mindset…and your chances for nursing career success.

2. Rely on Some Non-Technical Scheduling Tools

Post a calendar on or near your desk and update it regularly with class dates, project deadlines and special events. Also, print a list of email addresses and phone numbers of nursing instructors, classmates and school personnel who can help you when you're at home.

3. Prioritize Your Projects

Take time at the beginning of each week to list the nursing school projects and deadlines for that week, and allot time to work on these items each day. Tasks become less daunting if you break them up into smaller chunks that you work on for one or two hours a day instead of at the last minute.

4. Expect Disruptions

Some weeks will be routine, but the unexpected will occur—at home, at work and at nursing school. In these cases, step back and reprioritize the rest of the week. Simply having a written plan that you can refer to for your next task can help you navigate around disruptions to your busy schedule.

5. Set a Realistic Schedule

When you schedule your nursing courses, consider everything else going on in your life. If work and family commitments allow time for one course a semester, don't overburden yourself. You will end up resenting both school and life if you find yourself drowning night after night in coursework— and missing out on important events—when you could have set more realistic goals.

6. Communicate With Your Boss

Before you start nursing school, tell your manager of your plans, especially if you hope that your education will increase your chances for promotion or give you new opportunities at work. Employers might also offer tuition reimbursement and require your supervisor to approve your studies before you enroll.

7. Manage Your Stress

Your nursing education is important, but so is your health. Take time for deep breaths, exercise and fun. If you let school consume all of your free time—while work devours the rest—you may see your performance slide in both areas.

8. Focus on Your Nursing Career Goal

By going to nursing school, you have taken an important step forward in your life and career. At certain points, achieving balance between your education, work and life may take its toll. Remember the reason you started your education in the first place, and picture yourself completing your last class or receiving your nursing degree. The goals that motivated you to start school can serve as a great incentive to finish it.

9. Enjoy the Journey

Going to nursing school is challenging, liberating and self-affirming. You'll meet new people, have unforgettable experiences, stretch yourself in ways you never imagined, and gain valuable insights into yourself. Take time to enjoy this special time. You'll not only reap career rewards at the end, but will expand your horizons every step of the way.