Working While in Nursing School: Things to Consider

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Figuring out how to pay for nursing school can be challenging. Can you work while in nursing school? It’s not recommended, but working while in nursing school may be possible if you find a position that offers flexible, part-time hours and work that isn’t too demanding.

nursing students studying

If you’re considering returning to school and transitioning to a nursing career, you may wonder how to finance your education and handle living expenses while earning a nursing degree. Can you work while in nursing school? If not, how will you manage your finances? And if working while in nursing school is possible, will your limited work hours be sufficient to cover your expenses?

These are all important questions to consider as you plan your future. At Concordia University Texas, we understand it can be challenging to cover the financial costs of nursing school. Earning a nursing degree is an investment in your career and future salary potential. That’s why our financial services team will provide personalized assistance to help you determine your eligibility for student aid.

Furthermore, with our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track, you could graduate in as few as 16 months and be well on your way toward landing your first nursing job.
If you are debating working while in nursing school, below are seven things to consider as you decide.

Can You Work While in Nursing School?

Nursing school is an intensive experience that requires full-time commitment. Your days will be packed with coursework, nursing skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations. Some students find that the hours they pour into earning their nursing degree total more than a standard 40-hour work week.

CTX nursing student working with a simulation manikin

What are skills and simulation labs in nursing education? Learn all about them here.

Since nursing school is a full-time job, working while in nursing school isn’t recommended. That said, some students can work while earning a nursing degree.

If you decide to work while earning a nursing degree, it’s crucial to ensure the job you select will provide enough flexibility and limited hours so you can devote sufficient attention and energy to your studies. If you struggle with nursing school because of your job, you may need to reconsider whether you should continue to work during this time.

How to Pay for Nursing School: Other Options to Consider

Before you consider working while in nursing school, it’s best to figure out how to pay for nursing school through alternative means. Your first step should be to fill out the FAFSA, the annual application for student aid from the federal government.

At Concordia University Texas, our financial services team can help you determine your eligibility for funding. (Our school FAFSA code is 003557.) After submitting the FAFSA, you’ll receive a financial aid award packet detailing any government grants and loans you qualify for.

Since federal grants and loans might not be sufficient to cover all your costs, the next step is to apply for scholarships. Scholarships have their own eligibility criteria, so be sure you are eligible to apply before putting together your application package.

ctx nursing student helping a patient

You might be tempted to only apply for scholarships offering thousands in free tuition, but these tend to have significant competition. Don’t overlook the smaller scholarship awards, which may be more attainable.

Whether or not you win a scholarship, you may also need private student loans to finance your nursing degree. Don’t be shy about shopping around for the best possible rates and terms. For example, the bank or credit union you’re currently using might not necessarily offer the best rates. Compare rates and terms from a variety of lenders to find options that fit your needs.

woman in yellow shirt standing and thinking

Financing your nursing degree is only part of the journey toward getting into nursing school. Learn how to get into nursing school in 5 steps here.

Manage Working While in Nursing School

It’s important to consider how to pay for nursing school without holding down a job first. After exhausting your options for financing your degree through alternative means, you might then think about how to manage working while in nursing school. Use the following tips to find an appropriate position to complement your degree track.

1. Look for a Relevant Position

One approach to consider is finding a healthcare-related job that will enable you to improve your nursing skills and knowledge while improving your comfort level when interacting with patients. There are many entry-level healthcare jobs to consider pursuing, such as the following:

  • Phlebotomist
  • Certified nursing assistant (CNA)
  • Home health aide
  • Patient representative
  • Surgery technician
  • Monitor technician

These are just a few. Consider looking for a role as a hospital transporter or medical transcriptionist. Bear in mind that some of these positions may require additional training and certifications, depending on your state and employer requirements. Unless you already have the necessary training and certification, it may be best to apply for a job that doesn’t require them.

2. Opt for Part-Time or PRN Scheduling

No matter what job you pursue, you’ll need one that offers part-time hours or pro re nata (PRN) scheduling. PRN scheduling offers “as needed” hours, which means working on an on-call basis rather than a set schedule. PRN hours can offer greater flexibility but also less predictability. Consider which is most important to you before accepting a position with PRN scheduling.

3. Consider Freelancing or Being a Remote Worker

Freelance gigs and part-time remote jobs (and remote freelance jobs) can offer exceptional flexibility that makes working while in nursing school a little more doable. Consider the skillset and available resources you already have when looking for these types of jobs.

For example, if you’re a fast and accurate typist, you might be able to find a part-time or remote freelance job as a transcriptionist. If you own a reliable vehicle, you might consider being a contract delivery or rideshare driver.

4. Look for a Non-Demanding Position

During nursing school, you’ll pour a great deal of energy and effort into your studies. The last thing you need during this time is a demanding, stressful job that drains your energy levels. Look for a non-demanding position instead.

Some positions allow you to study during lulls at work. For instance, a job as a parking lot attendant, information desk staffer, or night auditor at a hotel generally offers some downtime you could use to study.

Balance Work and School: Quick Tips

Even if you find a highly flexible, non-demanding job that doesn’t require a lot of hours or energy, working while in nursing school can still be challenging. There may be times when you doubt your abilities. Keep your eyes on the prize and remind yourself why you want to become a nurse, such as the ability to help others, the high demand in the field, and the potential for a lucrative salary.

school nurse helping child with band-aid

There are lots of motivators for pursuing a career in healthcare. Check out these 10 reasons to become a nurse.

  • Talk to your employer about your nursing school commitment before accepting a position. Be sure the job allows sufficient flexibility.
  • Use a day planner or a scheduling app and set aside time each day for studying.
  • Take breaks! After studying for a while, stand up and stretch before getting back to the books.
  • Ask for help from family and friends. Try delegating as many non-nursing and non-work tasks as possible to others.
  • Be mindful of your stress levels. Consider using stress reduction techniques like deep breathing or yoga.
  • Don’t skimp on your sleep, no matter how crunched for time you might be.
  • Do your best to eat well and exercise regularly. (Try HIIT workouts to save time.)

Even with these quick tips, handling a job and nursing school can still be tricky. Remember, if your job interferes with your success in nursing school, you may need to resign and look for alternative ways of financing your degree.

CTX nursing students standing together in room

Take the First Step Toward Becoming an RN Today!

At Concordia University Texas, you can begin working toward your dream of becoming a nurse. Our admissions counselors provide extensive support and will help you develop a plan to meet the admissions requirements and apply to nursing school. If you are accepted to the ABSN track, you could earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months upon successful completion of prerequisites.

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or a minimum of 60 non-nursing college credits, contact an admissions counselor at Concordia University Texas and get started today.