What You Need to Know About Nursing School

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Answers to some big nursing school questions - What you need to know about nursing school

Students considering nursing school tend to have a lot of the same big questions:

  • Which program is best for me?
  • How do I get admitted?
  • How long will it take?
  • Will I be able to handle the work?

But when it comes down to what you need to know about nursing school—what you really need to know—it’s often the day-to-day details that will give you the best sense of whether or not you can really picture yourself in those scrubs.

What You Need to Know About Nursing School

Below, we’ve rounded up a few of the frequently-asked questions submitted to us on social media from students interested in the Marian University Accelerated BSN program, along with our answers.

Q: Can I work while in nursing school?

A: We get this one a lot. No surprise—paying for nursing school is high on the list of concerns from new students, and many are nervous about leaving a job to go back to school full-time.

The most candid answer here is, “Yes. . . but it depends.” Here’s why:

  • It depends on how many hours you plan to work and what kind of flexibility you have in scheduling those hours
  • It depends on how supportive your organization and supervisors are about your goal of becoming a nurse
  • It depends on how good you are at multi-tasking, managing multiple deadlines, and allocating your time efficiently
  • It depends on how close your job is to the ABSN learning site and to the hospitals where you’ll have your clinical rotations, because lengthy commutes eat up valuable time

There have certainly been students who successfully completed the ABSN program while holding down a job. But most of them worked part-time rather than full-time, or worked in positions with a flexible schedule.

The bottom line is that nursing school is not easy, and even with courses being offered online, the labs and clinical rotations still require a substantial amount of in-person work. Few students have been able to manage a full-time job and the accelerated BSN program simultaneously. It’s not impossible, but it takes an extra-diligent, extra-organized student and a very understanding boss.

Q: Can I handle nursing school if I have small children at home?

A: Yes, but plan to have some help!

Many students in the Marian ABSN program are career changers with families. Some are re-entering the workforce after taking some time off specifically to focus on family. It’s very common for ABSN students to be balancing spouses, children, pets, and other family responsibilities with their school work.

That balance is much easier, of course, if there is a spouse or other adult who can help things run smoothly on the home front while you’re in school.

Why nursing is a great career - Nurse standing at a front desk
This is Deb Hajek, RN, former Marian University Accelerated BSN student. She is a mom of two teenagers and currently works as a Neonatal Practitioner.

The program may seem more doable if your children are school-age or older. If you have a newborn, it’s probably unrealistic to expect that you can meet the demands of an infant and the demands of an accelerated nursing program at the same time. There are only so many hours in the day!

But we’ve had a single dad complete the Marian ABSN program with flying colors, a mom of two teenagers who juggled nursing school around all their activities, and many other success stories.

Ultimately, the answer to this one will be up to you, based on what you know your limits are. But there are a few common tips for balancing nursing school with family:

  • Have a support system in place.
    Identify one or two adults who can fill in for you at home when unexpected conflicts arise, and one or two fellow students who can help you stay on top of any school work you miss when family situations intervene.
  • Create a routine and stick to it.
    Establish set times to take care of your school work and to attend to your family’s needs, and try not to mix the two. And don’t forget to set aside some time for yourself!
  • Set expectations with your family up front.
    Explain to them exactly what nursing school means to you and why it’s important to you to pursue this goal. Enlist them to be your cheerleaders and moral support when things get tough, and give them a role in enabling your success.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.
    If the house is a mess, the laundry is piled up, or you’re not available to help your child with every homework question, let it go. Don’t let guilt undermine your determination. Instead, keep the end goal in sight and remind yourself why you’re doing all this in the first place and how it will benefit the entire family.

Q: What are some good study tips or study locations for nursing students?

A: When it comes to studying, most Marian ABSN students tell us that the physical location doesn’t matter as much as finding a time when they are free to truly concentrate on the material without distractions. One or two focused 30-minute sessions at a coffee shop can sometimes be more productive than several hours at a library, depending on the number of interruptions.

Remember, too, that in a hybrid program, “study time” includes actually taking your online courses, many of which have interactive elements. We like the approach of one student, who advised:

  • Listen to a course or complete a learning module all the way through first, without worrying about taking notes
  • Revisit the more complex or detailed portions and take notes as you replay those sections
  • Complete any interactive exercises or quizzes
  • Try to do at least the above three things in one sitting before moving on to another course or topic, and don’t try to absorb too much new information at once
  • Discuss the material with nursing school classmates whenever possible, since talking about a topic with others helps cement it in your memory

Q: Where can I find used nursing school textbooks?

A: Fortunately, many aspects of the nursing curriculum are common across programs and schools, which means there are a lot of sources out there for finding key textbooks and materials at a discount. Check out the following if you want to save some money with used books:

  • Your school’s campus bookstore—most have a large section of used textbooks for sale or rent
  • The local library
  • Alumni from your school or current nurses (you never know what they have at home on their bookshelves)
  • Online bookstores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, textbooks.com, nursingtextbooks.net, and many others
  • Ebay
  • Chegg Textbook Rentals
  • Craigslist
  • Facebook—posting on your program’s or school’s page is a good way to reach out to fellow peers or past students who might know of sources you didn’t think of

Do you have other burning questions? Contact your advisor or ask us on Facebook.