To Work on Not to Work While in Nursing School: That is the Question

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imageMany nursing students struggle with making a decision about whether they should work or focus completely on their education while they are in nursing school.

If you are in nursing school or are exploring nursing as a potential career, you may find yourself asking:

  • Should I work while going to working school?
  • Will I be able to make the same grades?
  • What about my kids and family? Will I have any time for them?
  • Will I be able to pay my bills if I don’t work during nursing school?

These are all worthwhile concerns for any budding nurse to have and it’s best you evaluate this decision thoroughly and early. Whether you work will be stipulated by your current financial situation and the support structure you have in your life. For example: if you are a non-traditional student and a single mom, it may be impossible for you to quit work while in nursing school. However, if you are traditional college grad and have never really had a full-time job, you may be able to get by without working.

Working While in Nursing School

imageThere are many benefits to working while you are in school. First of all, working while in nursing school can help reduce the amount of student loans you will accumulate overall. This will lessen the amount of time you have to repay loans and allow you to attain a better quality of life in the long run.

Considering that many forms of financial aid are decreasing in their payment amounts, it’s very difficult to have your education entirely paid for without the need for loans. Unless of course you are a rock star student and meet the poverty requirements. There are many benefits you can get that others can’t. But the debt of student loans can be smothering at times and it’s beneficial to avoid as much of it as you can.

A big part of whether you choose to work during nursing school will depend on whether you already have stable employment. If you have a good job, that will be flexible with your schedule, and you enjoy enough to continue working, the decision will be a little easier for you. Rather than quitting your job altogether, you may want to reduce your hours and work some while you are in school. Also, if you work in the healthcare setting, there are often opportunities to work limited amounts while receiving an increased wage in exchange for an agreement to work on staff as a nurse after you graduate. Since many nurses have a difficult time finding their first job, this is doubly beneficial.

Not Working While in Nursing School

imageIf you decide to not work in nursing school you will have the added benefit of extra time to study. You may also actually be able to squeeze in some time for relaxation and fun. Not working may allow you to maintain a higher GPA overall and stay qualified for any scholarships or grants you have. This higher GPA may also help you get qualified for new scholarships or grants.

You may also find that you have extra time to participate in extracurricular activities at your school or with student nursing organizations. If you can be involved with you student government or planning and organizing your pinning ceremony, go for it. These are wonderful memories as well as excellent resume boosters.

Not working while in nursing school may also work to your benefit in terms of your financial aid. If you’re EFC (expect family contribution) is higher than $0, any money you earn will continue to make that number climb. This may limit the types of financial aid you receive. Because according to the fine folks in the financial aid offices, if you’re EFC is $2000, then it’s expected that you can come up with $2000 to pay for your education. It doesn’t matter if you can’t. The golden EFC number says you can. But if your EFC is $0 you may qualify for a federal PELL grant and gain $5500 a year to pay for tut ion and living expenses while you are ins school.

To Work or Not to Work? The Choice is Yours

There are pros and cons to either side of the coin you flip. Weigh your options and go with what you think you will be able to handle. If you decide you would have rather gone the opposite direction there’s not hard and fast rule that says you can’t change your mind. Ultimately as long as you make it through nursing school, you can live with any decision you make.

Polling the Audience

  • Did you work while you were in nursing school? Why or why not?
  • Nursing students are you working your way through school?
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