Best Shift to Work While in Nursing School

Best Shift to Work While in Nursing School

Pursuing a nursing degree while working full-time can be incredibly rewarding yet demanding. As a nursing student, you likely need a job with a flexible schedule that accommodates your academic requirements. But what’s the best nursing school work schedule? Read on as we explore the unique challenges of juggling school and work as an aspiring nurse.

Can You Work While In Nursing School?

Many prospective nursing students wonder, can you even work while earning a BSN or MSN? Absolutely! Studies show over 60% of nursing students work at least part-time. With strong time management skills and a flexible job, they are working while in a rigorous nursing program, which is very doable.

That said, nursing school alone is intense. Class time, clinical rotations, skills practice, community service, and study groups, the demands pile up quickly. Adding work to the mix can get stressful fast if you overcommit yourself. The key is balance through thoughtful planning.

Working During Nursing School

Planning your ideal work schedule around nursing school commitments requires understanding the available options:

Full-Time vs Part-Time Employment

How many hours do nurses work a week? Most traditional nursing programs suggest that students work at least 20 hours a week if employed at maximum. Many thrive with less, around 8-15 hours of part-time work per week. This leaves adequate study and self-care time.

For some students, part-time employment still fails to meet financial needs. In these cases, working full-time is possible but extremely difficult. Strategic scheduling is critical if you need full-time income while in nursing school.

Shift Work Schedules

Nursing students in healthcare often work as nurses’ aides, medical assistants, EMTs, or in other supportive roles at hospitals and clinics. These jobs frequently involve shift work on units that operate 24/7.

Standard shift options include:

  • Day shift – Work the usual 9-5 office hours
  • Evening shift – Early afternoon through late evenings, like 2 PM—11 PM
  • Night shift/overnights – Start in the evenings and finish daytime hours, like 7 PM—7 AM
  • Rotating shifts – Switching between days, evenings, and nights

Besides shift types, there are full-time and part-time positions for registered nurses and students. Full-time usually means 36+ hours per week, while part-time ranges from 16-28 hours per week on average.

Best Work Schedule for Nursing School

Ultimately, the “best” nursing school work schedule depends on your unique situation. But in most cases, here are some innovative options to consider:

Full-time Day Shift Schedule: 36 hours

Working full 8 to 12-hour day shifts allows you to keep a relatively regular schedule. Just be sure to have at least one weekday free for coursework. Concentrating clinical rotations to one set 2-3 day sequence per week also helps create whole days for studying.

Balancing a full course load with 36 work hours is TOUGH. Solid time management skills are vital.

Part-time Weekend Schedule: 24 hours

For most nursing students, working weekends is the ideal balance. The typical schedule would be two 12-hour shifts each Saturday and Sunday. This allows complete availability for classes and clinicals Monday through Friday.

The trade-off is missing some weekend social time and activities with family and friends. But having weekdays 100% reserved for school makes part-time weekend hours the most manageable schedule if you stay organized.

Working a Full-Time Job While in Nursing School

Attempting to balance the demands of nursing school while working 36 hours or more at a job each week poses immense challenges. The course loads, clinical hour requirements, study time, and practice needed to excel in rigorous nursing programs mean very little time is left for other significant commitments.

Yet services like housing, transportation, and grocery costs don’t pause for academic pursuits. Financial realities motivate many nursing students to maintain full-time jobs out of necessity. This impacts critical aspects of student life.

Limited Time for Coursework

The volume of knowledge nursing students must command is vast. Anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, disease processes, and PT management—these topics all require extensive reading, memorization, and practice. Adding long work hours severely cuts into study capacity.

Instructors often recommend 3+ hours of weekly study time per credit hour taken. Working evenings while taking 12 credits, for example, would demand 36+ hours of study weekly. Tacking on 36 hours of employment doesn’t compute.

Less Sleep

Heavy academic workloads combined with overnight patient care shifts lead many nursing students to be chronically sleep-deprived. Sleep is essential for mental clarity, retention, and focus. Skimping on it impairs information processing and memory formation, which are critical for learning.

Missing Class or Clinicals

Scheduling clinical rotations is complicated, with multiple students’ availability involved. Missing clinicals due to work conflicts risks failing courses or delayed progression. Nursing programs give a little leeway on attendance.

Likewise, lectures and labs are vital. Yet when employers deny shift changes for essential sessions, students face disadvantageous choices. Working full-time allows little flexibility at times when school must come first.

Burnout and Stress

Maintaining high-performance levels across two demanding, high-stakes platforms—work and nursing school—exponentially increases fatigue and anxiety. The compounding pressures lead many committed learners toward exhaustion and despair without proper breaks and a good support system.

Difficulty With Work-School-Life Balance

Between working overnight hospital shifts and days filled with classes plus mountains of associated assignments, nursing students working full-time frequently experience strained personal relationships and home lives. Limited free time gives little chance for adequate self-care, recreation, civic participation, or social interaction. Isolating effects like these contribute to emotional taxations.

How to be Successful at Working Full-Time in Nursing School

Is full-time employment incompatible with excelling in nursing school? No. But it demands flawless organization skills and making self-care a top priority. Try these methods:

Polish Time Management Abilities

Developing stellar organizational skills is vital when juggling both, with scarcely any wiggle room between school and work hours. Prioritizing and scheduling fixed times for classes, study, meals, commuting, and sleep ensures all essential tasks occur. Calendar apps, paper planners, and to-do lists help. Saying no to additional obligations preserves this balance.

Communicate Openly

Making key people aware of your situation enables greater support. Discuss needs and challenges with nursing school advisors so they understand conflicts balancing school and work. Similarly, keep immediate supervisors apprised of exam dates or challenging assignments you need particular schedule considerations around. Transparency facilitates solutions.

Adopt Self-Care Routines

Working 36+ hours weekly in high-stress hospital settings while meeting rigorous academic standards is energy-depleting. Counter drain by integrating healthy stress relief habits. Make nourishing meals, get outside daily, pursue hobbies, connect with uplifting friends, and earn at least 7 hours of sleep nightly. Don’t ignore exhaustion warning signs.

Access Every Available Resource

Most nursing programs offer specialized support personnel and tools to boost student achievement. Take full advantage! Join study groups, visit professors’ office hours when struggling with concepts, use campus writing labs to refine papers, and tap tutoring services if subjects challenge you. Don’t hesitate to lighten workloads or complete semesters over additional terms if needed.

Set Realistic Expectations

Acknowledge that concurrent full-time work, schoolwork, and a well-rounded life are nearly impossible. Understand that working students commonly battle fatigue, isolate socially, and battle perceived “failures” when overwhelmed. Perfectionist mindsets must evolve towards gentler self-appraisal and patience. Celebrate progress made amid adversity. Graduation may take longer, and that is 100% okay.

5 Benefits Of Working Full-Time While In Nursing School

Beyond financial rewards, working full-time while pursuing nursing graduate degrees has other meaningful upsides:

Networking: Clinical sites, hospitals, and other healthcare employers you work in while in school provide valuable professional connections. These can lead to job shadows, mentorships, internships, research projects, references, and often job offers post-graduation.

Paid Bills: Few situations add more frustration and distraction from focusing on coursework than constantly worrying about basic living expenses. Working full-time helps minimize financial struggles enormously.

Experience: Exposure to healthcare workplace environments through aide or tech positions allows you to develop vital knowledge regarding protocols, healthcare team roles, patient communication, and hospital operations.

No Need for Student Loans: Keeping living costs covered through employment income while in nursing school prevents relying on loans as much, saving exponentially on interest payments.

Reliable Income: Unlike side gigs and odd jobs, permanent healthcare roles provide stability and reliable pay. This makes balancing personal budgets much simpler. 

Best Full-Time Jobs For Nursing Students

Given the intense demands of nursing programs, finding a full-time job with maximum flexibility is critical for students needing to work long hours as they go to nursing school. Best options include:

Medical Assistant

Nursing assistant duties like patient intake, preparing exam rooms, taking vital signs, and handling lab specimens often align well with nursing students’ schedules. The largely clinic-based hours offer reliability for blocking course and study times. Enhanced patient experience also benefits bedside manner.

Home Health Aide

Providing supportive services like preparing meals, light housekeeping, medication reminders, and mobility assistance to homebound clients offers work-hour flexibility. Visit scheduling coordinates with both parties’ needs, accommodating school obligations. Excellent customer service and communication skills were developed.

EMT / Paramedic

Pursuing EMT certification during nursing school meets financial and skills growth aims. EMTs perform medical response duties like airway management, oxygen administration, splinting, emergency childbirth assistance, and more. Both 12-hour and 24-hour shifts may rotate but allow for fixed-schedule arrangements. High-pressure scenarios prep for nursing crises.

Geriatric Care Manager

Geriatric care managers coordinate holistic elderly patient care, linking older adults and families to supportive health and wellness resources. The work hours usually occur on weekdays only in office settings, allowing school schedule compatibility. Learning senior care support strategies also informs future geriatric nursing practice.

Medical Biller/Coder

While not patient-facing, mastering medical billing/coding skills applies directly to healthcare administration concepts nursing students study. The typical 9 to 5 office schedule reliability also suits school life. Attention to detail, medical terminology competence, and analytical thinking are developed.


Phlebotomists collect blood samples from patients in clinics and hospitals. The outpatient lab hours generally work well for nursing students’ availabilities. Precise hands-on work refines techniques applicable in future intravenous therapy administration practice. Customer service and patient reassurance skills strengthen

Typical Day For A Student Attending Nursing School And Working Full Time

Pulling 36+ weekly work hours while tackling full class loads, clinicals, and mountains of associated nursing schoolwork is no joke. What’s it actually like? A sample day might look like:

5:30 AM: Wake up (if you worked overnight, night shift, preparing for morning lectures is tough)

6:30 AM: Leave for 8 AM pharmacology class

8:00 AM – 2:00 PM: Attend Classes

2:30 PM – 11:30 PM: Complete 12-hour shift as nurse’s aide in ICU

11:45 PM: Arrive home and eat a quick late dinner 

12:15 AM: Study notes until 2:00 AM for next day’s peds nursing exam

2:30 AM: Go to sleep (just 5.5 hours tonight)

This schedule leaves minimal time for proper sleep, exercise, and healthy meals. Maintaining any semblance of work-school-personal life balance working full-time requires good planning and self-discipline.

While completely swamped days like this are unavoidable sometimes, regularly pushing yourself to utter exhaustion without relief significantly increases health and academic jeopardy. Know your limits, and don’t be afraid to speak up about workload concerns.

Balancing Work While in Nursing School

The intense demands of nursing school impact students’ abilities to hold down jobs simultaneously. However, by optimizing schedules around academic constraints through strategic planning and sound self-care, many realize the enriching experience of engaging in healthcare environments early via employment concurrent with pursuing nursing degrees.

Remember that while financial and vocational gains motivate working long hours as nurses in training, safeguarding wellness enables dedicating the most total energy towards studies and career advancement. With proper priorities set, nursing students discover that success in integrating ambitious professional and academic objectives is possible.

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