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Arkansas State University

Balancing Work, School and Personal Life

Nurses who prioritize can maintain their commitments to work, school and life

Nurses are under a lot of pressure to deliver quality patient care. In addition to stressful medical situations and difficult patients, nurses may have family obligations to deal with. Some nurses decide to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or more advanced degrees while they continue to work, which can add to their busy schedules.

Why Would a Working Nurse Go Back to School?

Registered nurses (RN) with an associate degree in nursing may want to complete an RN to BSN program because they are having trouble finding a nursing position in their chosen field or they are not able to move ahead in their career. Another reason why nurses go back to school is for the opportunity to earn more money. Nurses with a BSN, MSN or Ph.D. are eligible for positions that pay higher salaries.

How Can You Avoid Becoming a Zombie?

Once nurses commit to working and going to school, they may sacrifice family and personal time as well as proper sleep and nutrition. They can easily fall into a cycle of work and school with little or no time for relaxation. This is not good for a nurse’s patients or the nurse’s own well-being. If you are a nurse, you cannot become a zombie at work. You must be mentally present. The same goes for your family, especially if you have children.

You need to prioritize the commitments in your life. By developing an organized schedule, you can see where you are able to carve out time for your family responsibilities and recreation. You can accomplish a balance of work, school and leisure by doing the following:

  • Arranging a support system at home.
  • Making a list to keep track of daily commitments.
  • Maintaining a flexible work and school schedule.
  • Getting enough sleep and eating healthy.
  • Saying no.
  • Remaining motivated.

Why Do You Need a Support System?

Asking for support is a necessity — otherwise, you may not achieve your goals. Older children can help with household chores and a spouse can assist with preparing meals and driving kids to appointments and activities. When you have smaller children, you may have to rely on a spouse, grandparents, family members or a babysitter.

Why Should You Make a To-Do List?

Sure, there are smartphone apps you can use to keep track of your schedule but making a to-do list is better. You may spend more time searching for information on your device than it takes to check your list. When you keep a to-do list, it is always readily available and the act of writing enables you to recall what you have written.

How Do You Maintain a Flexible Schedule?

You should not hesitate to talk to your employer about your decision to return to school so you can agree on an acceptable, flexible work schedule. You may have to work nights and weekends, or change your shift. Similarly, you can look for degree programs that allow you to learn at your own pace so you can better manage your time. Online programs are often an affordable and convenient way for working nurses to complete a degree. Arkansas State University’s online RN to BSN program offers seven-week courses. You can enroll as a full-time or part-time student.

Nursing is a demanding profession, so you should not ignore the need for rest and enjoyable distractions when at home. Motivation is the key to successfully integrating all of your aspirations. You may need to lean on others and learn to say no, but these steps are important to removing obstacles that can impede your progress. You and your family may endure some hardships while you are completing your degree program, but it is worth it.

Learn more about the A-State online RN to BSN program.


Scrubs: 2 Key Work-Life Balance Tips for Nurses

American Nurse Today: Achieving a Work-Life Balance

Working Nurse: Work & Life Balance: A Nurse’s Impossible Dream?

Houston Chronicle: How to Manage a Family and a Nursing Career

AMN Healthcare: 12 Steps to Nurses’ Work–Life Balance

The Guardian: How to Stop To-Do Lists Ruining Your Life

American Journal of Nursing: Striving for Work-Life Balance

Minority Nurse: Work, Life, School, Balance

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