This is a common question that I get asked, all the time. The reality is how do you support yourself and attend nursing school? And what if you have others to support, spouses, children, aging parents and even pets? There are other bills besides school to consider like: rent, food & transportation.

I will spend some time in the other secrets talking about government grants / loans & programs and scholarships, but for this secret, let's focus on work alone.

Is it possible to work full-time (40 hours.) And attend nursing school full-time? The answer is yes and no. Have I seen it done? Yes. Have I seen it done successfully? Not very often.

When I have seen it done successfully, … almost every single time it involved a job where there was a lot of “down time” which allowed studying to happen. What do I mean by “down time”? A night job at a small hospital admitting desk, where only a few admits a night occurs. As an in home caretaker working the night shift where the patient sleeps most of the night. These jobs allow for time between your assigned duties to study and prep for class.

The only time I have seen it work for students with full-time jobs with no “down time” is in exceptional students. Students who can retain information at a glance and process it quickly.

If you need to work full-time, consider seeking out programs that offer an extended time frame or part-time attendance. It will take you longer but odds of success will increase.

How much part-time work can I do? I counsel students to keep it to weekends and work lots at breaks and summer time to save up for when it gets intense. Scout out the schedule and try to eliminate working before an exam.

Many schools are listening to students and what they want ….. which is to have longer school days and have days off during the week. The program I work in has listened to students and we are in class longer which frees up 1-3 days a week for study or work. Seek out these programs. Ask to see a typical students schedule for the week and for different quarters / semesters.

Go to the students directly and ask them how much they work, and if there are some quarters where they should work little or none. Ask these questions at the SNO (student nurses organization) meetings.

Do not fall into the trap of “trying it”. Too often I see students “try it out” which quite often finds them in a hole after the first 2 exams. They have to then cut back … which for some means giving notice or waiting for the next work schedule, which may mean two more exams … a deaf hole dug. This usually ends in course failure. Try the opposite method, do not work and then add days as you are able.

You will want to work as little as possible and still not starve. Your success will go up in relationship to how much you work or do not work.

Many students will move back home in order to make it work, even with children. You may need to take in a roommate. Consider all of your options to reduce your bills. Have these measures in place BEFORE you start nursing school. Much easier to do it before you find yourself in a crunch for the need for more time to study and the conflict of the need to work to pay the bills.

All of these rules and suggestions apply to taking prerequisites. You will need the grades to get into competitive nursing programs. You do not want your work schedule to interfere with getting good grades which increase your odds of acceptance.

Please spend time reading and following the secrets on grants, loan paybacks, and scholarships. Apply this knowledge to obtain money, which will free up your work schedule for emphasis on nursing school.