A master’s degree in nursing can open up career options, increase your earning potential, and enhance your professional reputation. Earning an advanced degree while working, however, isn’t easy. Here are some tips on how you can balance work and higher education.
Online programs are often a good choice for working professionals, especially nurses and other professionals who often work overnight shifts or other shifts outside of normal business hours. An online program lets you study when it works for you. You will, however, have to be careful to watch out for the type of scam colleges often referred to as diploma mills.
The Federal Trade Commission recommends against doing business with any college that lacks a significant focus on exams and coursework, that offer diplomas based on “experience” or that charge a flat fee rather than by credit hour. When considering any school, always check for accreditation by a recognized organization.
Tip: Get Your Employer on Board
For nurses, it’s often a good idea to inform your employer that you’re working on obtaining a master’s degree in nursing. Many hospitals, clinics and other health-care organizations offer assistance in paying for continuing education. If you can get this kind of assistance, it can take off some of the financial pressure and allow you to focus on your studies.
Tip: Organization Will Set You Free
One of the most important things you can do when pursuing a master’s degree in nursing is to create a schedule and stick with it. One of the main sources of stress for working students is not knowing when everything is going to get done. Having a schedule helps take away some of that stress. Make sure to give yourself a little extra time until you know how long tasks will take and don’t pack your schedule too tight.
Tip: Take Care of Yourself
While juggling the responsibilities of work and school, it may seem like there’s no time to eat right, exercise, relax, socialize or get enough sleep, but it’s important to take care of yourself. Running yourself ragged is a short term gain, but a long term loss. If you end up getting sick or burned out you may lose a lot more time than you’d would by keeping things balanced.
Tip: Don’t Forget Your Social Life
Lastly, don’t forget to nurture your social life while pursuing your master’s degree in nursing. Friends and family provide vital support and encouragement as well as stress relief. One important tip is to try to make sure you have friends outside of work. There’s nothing wrong with being friends with coworkers, if you change jobs after graduation, it’s not uncommon for those relationships to vanish. Also, if you have a significant other or children, don’t forget to nurture those relationships. They’ll sustain you as much as you sustain them.