Let’s face it: college tuition is expensive. Depending on the school, a Bachelor’s of Science in nursing—the traditional four-year nursing program—can cost between $40,000 and $100,000.1
To start paying down any student loans (and earn a bit of spending money), many aspiring nurses will work and study at the same time. Balancing work and school in this manner is often demanding—but not impossible.
In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the challenges of working while in nursing school, look at potential job ideas, and provide tips for navigating this exciting (yet busy) part of your life.
Can You Work While in Nursing School?
Working throughout the four years of your nursing degree is possible, but how much you’ll be able to work depends on you. Some nursing students find they have to work full-time while completing their studies, especially if they have to support their families.
With that said, tackling full-time work and school poses a challenge that, if possible, is best avoided. Time to complete assignments may be stretched thin, and the stress can mount.
Holding a part-time job during your nursing education generally provides the best mix of free time and financial security. During the first two years of your degree, you might be able to work more regularly, as your studies will be less demanding.
As homework and course difficulty increases in your final two years, you may decide to work few to no hours or take time off during exams.
Overall, your ability to work during school will depend on your financial situation, your understanding of the material, your time management skills, and more. If the idea of such a loaded agenda makes your palms sweat, you may want to look into a part-time nursing program. Learn more about how long nursing school is and what to expect.
What Jobs Can You Work While in Nursing School?
As a nursing student, you can theoretically take on any job—as long as it suits your school schedule. However, some job opportunities are better than others.
The ideal job for a nursing student fosters nursing-related skills such as providing compassionate patient care. By applying for roles in the medical field during your nursing education, you’ll already have relevant experience and connections when you graduate. Medical jobs that don’t require a nursing degree include:
- Medical secretary – As a medical secretary in a doctor’s office, you’ll schedule appointments, collect copayments, and help with medical reports.
- Home health aide – Personal care aides assist those who need a little extra help, including the elderly and those with disabilities. You could work as a private, in-home caretaker or at a long-term care facility.
Of course, if you’re just looking for a flexible job that helps pay the bills, any part-time work is sufficient. Here are a few non-medical positions that nursing students should look into:
- Customer service – As a registered nurse, you’ll spend most of your day communicating with patients. Working in retail or at a call center is an excellent way to develop service-related people skills.
- Copywriter – If you’re a strong writer, you may want to look into copywriting. Freelance copywriters draft blogs and web copy, generally working whenever they can—perfect for the busy nursing student.
What Percentage of Nurses Work While in School?
While statistics about working nursing students are difficult to find, we do have an idea of the total number of students who work throughout college, which gives us a rough estimate.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 43% of full-time undergraduate students were employed in 2018.2 The same report notes that 81% of part-time college students work while studying.2
Balancing Work, Life, and Nursing School
Spend enough time around working professionals, and you’ll inevitably hear the term “work-life balance.” And what you’ll overhear is this: it’s not always easy to manage.
Add in a full course load, clinical hours, extracurricular activities, a social life, and chores, and 24 hours starts to seem impossibly short. But don’t lose hope! Here are some tips and tricks for achieving work-life-school balance:
- Build a supportive network – Aside from friends and family that will help you succeed, look to connect with fellow students and co-workers. If your busy schedule has you juggling commitments, it pays to have work friends to pick up the occasional shift.
- Don’t forget your health – Of course, maintaining a balanced diet, regular sleep schedule, and exercise routine is beneficial to your physical and mental health. But studies also show that sleeping well and exercising can reduce stress.3
- Leave time for self-care – When your calendar is overflowing with deadlines, it can be tough to relax. But sometimes, taking a moment to recharge is the best way to move forward. Always listen to your body, rest when you need it, and keep doing the things you enjoy.
If you need more motivation to push through a heavy courseload, check out these nursing school quotes.
Working and Traveling After Nursing School
If you’re one of the many nursing students who will have to work through school, you may experience difficulties with finding the time and money to travel. By applying to work as a travel nurse with Host Healthcare, you can fulfill your dreams of exploring the country while putting your newly earned BSN degree to use. Find out more about the different types of travel nurses to determine which path is right for you.
Contact us today to learn more!
- Nurse Journal. How Much Does Nursing School Cost? https://nursejournal.org/resources/how-much-does-nursing-school-cost/
- NCES. College Student Employment. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/pdf/coe_ssa.pdf
- Mayo Clinic. Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469