Can I Go to Nursing School If I’m Already Working Full-time?

Is it possible to attend nursing school while holding a full-time job?  The educational landscape has changed dramatically in the past decade. Educational opportunities that were once off-limits to full-time workers are now possible due to the prevalence of schools that operate with the adult learner in mind. Many of these offer excellent online courses, and/or evening hours to accommodate students who work full-time.

Achieve a Nursing Degree Online

Nursing school can be very intense, and programs often require a lot of information crammed into a relatively short period. That doesn’t preclude them from completion online, and most online courses now integrate video chat sessions that allow teachers and students to interact in a way that we generally associate with traditional learning. This technology even allows much of the practical learning to be accomplished online, but depending on your state, there may be some degree of hands-on learning required. For some state-specific guidance, check out the nursing education resource hosted by U.S. News.

Attending Nursing School at Night

An advantage of online learning is that you can participate on your schedule, but there are traditional nursing education options available for many full-time workers as well. For instance, if you work a 9-to-5 job, then nursing school at night is a viable option. A full-time Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program usually takes twelve months to complete. A part-time LPN program takes about eighteen months. Registered Nurse (RN) programs can take as little as two years. Most LPN and RN programs offer a fairly flexible schedule, with your choice of day, evening or weekend hours for lectures, labs and clinical rotations.

LPN, ADN and BSN

At traditional nursing schools, students can enroll in programs that will transition them from new student to LPN to RN and perhaps even to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Most online learners will achieve their LPN locally and then achieve their Associate of Science in Nursing (ADN) and then perhaps the BSN online. In most states, it is now possible to achieve an LPN online, and the student must simply be aware of meeting in-person obligations, if any, within time.

Set Your Expectations and Goals

However you choose to achieve your LPN, ADN or BSN, it is imperative that you establish goals and then define a plan to achieve them on a schedule that is appropriate for you. Working 40 hours and going to nursing school, even online, is going to be tough, so prepare for that challenge both mentally and physically. Most students who flourish in such an environment do so because they lead a very structured lifestyle. The fortunate aspect of this sacrifice is that you will see dividends within 18 months, which is not so long to go and will make the remainder of the process much more palatable.

In Conclusion

Perhaps the best advice for someone who is working full-time and attending nursing school is not to go it alone. Lean on your family and friends for support, and go out of your way to make new friends among your fellow nursing students. The camaraderie (and often commiseration) offered by these friendships makes nursing school easier, and even fun.