My FIRST Question from a Reader!! (Hopefully more to come)

January 23, 2009

“I am seriously thinking of going back to school for nursing. I already have my bachelor degree in Sociology — however, my career has always been in law (20 years). I see from your blogs that you work full-time while also a nursing student. Could you fill me in on how you’ve worked that out? I’m assuming you work during the day and I’m wondering how you deal with your clinical hours. Any info you can provide would be appreciated.”

     by Julie January 19, 2009


Julie, I completely understand how fitting nursing school into your schedule seems impossible, but you may be able to pull it off. A lot of my classmates also have jobs and/or families and also somehow find a way to make it work. That being said, it’s not in any way going to be easy. You will need to sacrifice something- whether it is an important work meeting, office party, or your kid’s school play. The program (at least the one I’m in) is RIGID and does not allow for much flexibility, so you need to learn to be flexible so that you can conform to it. But it is possible…


I am lucky to have found a highly accredited program at a Community College (no joke- who would of thought!), which offers classes during days, nights, or weekends. I decided to take the night classes because it made the most sense in my schedule. I originally worked Monday-Fridays, but I changed my hours so that I have one weekday free for clinical work, and I do a Saturday shift in the office instead. It’s good if you can be at least a little flexible with your job. At the risk of attracting some super weird nursing-type stalkers, I will show you my schedule from last semester so you can get an idea of how I’ve managed to make it work.


Monday & Tuesday

Wake up at 5:45am, leave for work at 6:30, work from 7:30am-3:30pm, commute to school (arriving an hour early to catch up on some last minute reading, ect.). Class until 8:30pm, commute home, SLEEP!



Same morning schedule (up at 5:45, ect.), but after work I would go directly to the hospital for clinical. Clinical would run from 5:30pm until about 11pm, which would mean I would get home at about midnight. It defiantly sucked, BUT…



My day off from work! I got to sleep in some, and then do my work for clinical that night (which is the real reason I had off in the first place). In my program we do clinical two nights in a row- the first one we get our patients, do assessments and gather information about their history and illnesses from the charts, their chem labs, medications, ect. As well as do some basic aide-like tasks (think diapers, turning, ect.).

Thursday we need to come into clinical with all of the medications looked up, all of the diseases (past and present) looked up, and a plan of action for the shift for caring for the patients. This takes time to do… and a lot of it. Working on Thursdays was not feasible, unless maybe I had a half-day of something, but I was able to be flexible and switch out Thursdays for Saturdays, which as you will see below, really worked to my benefit.\


This was my favorite day of the week. I had my regular work schedule, which was really hard to wake up for by this point, because the week had been so long… BUT… I had NO SCHOOL. I’d like to say that I would go out with my friends, bf, or to some crazy bars on Friday night. I really would. But I would go home from work and SLEEP—right until Saturday morning. Trust me, it was totally necessary and I don’t regret one second of the social life that I missed while being snuggled in my nice, warm bed.



I know what you’re thinking- “Work on Saturday must SUCK.” I thought it would too, but it worked to my benefit. My office is slow on Saturday, so when I’m not doing work I have a lot of time to study. I usually get about 4-5 hrs worth of decent studying done, which really helps me out a lot. Combine this with having Thursday off for clinical, and it works out wonderful. After work I am able to have time to socialize, but usually end up passing out around midnight at my boyfriend’s house.


So yes Julie, you can definitely pull it off if you are able to compromise with your work schedule and personal life a little. I have very little time for a social life during the school year, and I couldn’t imagine juggling the schedule I have if I had kids, but some students in my class area able to. In the end, if you really want it, giving up 2 years isn’t a whole lot. And it goes by pretty quickly.


I hope this addressed your question. I’m able to answer questions for you, or anyone else out there, anytime you need.


Now I need to stop fucking around online and go back to studying!



  1. Thanks so much for the information. It really does help to hear from someone living it that it’s possible. I’ll refine my search now and try and find a school that offers night classes. I’m in the Chicago area — so certainly there’s got to be something. I see that you’re going for your Associates — have you heard of a dramatic difference in pay if you have your Bachelors? Back to work here. Keep up that grueling schedule of your’s… it sounds like you’re doing an awesome job!

    • In NJ, the difference between an Associates (RN) and Bachelor’s (BSN), is that you NEED a BSN to become a manager. That being said, there are a lot of programs offered online in which you can go from your RN to BSN over time.
      The associates program that I’m in now will take me a 3 ½ years to complete, because I had to take all of the sciences that I had managed to skip with my BA in psych. Chemistry, Anatomy 1 and 2, and Micro are all requirements, and in my program needed to be completed prior to entering. Also, even if you have taken your sciences in undergrad (I refer to my BA as undergrad because this FEELS like graduate school), you may need to retake them in the college you choose. Other credits should transfer.

      I have opted to go for my RN degree because it is a part-time program with plenty of opportunity for advancement. Some of the credits we already have will prob transfer for the BSN as well.

      About choosing programs: I have found that unlike some other professions, the COST of the school doesn’t seem to matter for Nursing (at least in NJ). The Community College I’m attending has a better reputation that a lot of the private schools in the area, and we are almost certainly guaranteed a job. Our chairperson is currently the President of the NJ Nursing Association (apparently this is a big deal) and our program costs $3,000 a year. Not a bad deal! So I would really research the different schools, accreditation, reputations, and what they have to offer.

  2. I forgot to answer the main question– there is no dramatic difference in pay amoung Nurses with RNs and BSNs that I am aware of.

  3. Okay — I’ve got one more question — then I promise to stop. The program I found at a community college here makes you become a Nurse Assistant first. All other schools do not, but they are far more expensive. Did you have to obtain your license/certification as a Nurse Assistant first? In my opinion, that sounds like a crock.

    I’m in the same boat as you — all those hard science courses I took for my BA no longer count as they’re older than 5 years. That part sucks. Thanks again for all your advice!

  4. I haven’t heard of becoming a Nursing Assistant first, but I would go to the school and talk to an advisor, because it may actually be a GOOD thing.

    My school highly recommends that we get some “real world” training outside of school, which would essentially, with my license as an RN, mean a nurses aide position. They say its easier to get a job after graduation if you are already working at the hospital.

    The problem is, many hospitals will not accept me because I do not have the nursing assistant cert. Now I’m not saying that its definately the best way to go… i’m not sure because I don’t know it.. but, if you talk to them and they tell you that this is why, it may actually be a pretty decent program. More experience= more chances at a job, which is why we are going thru this college crap in the first place.

    Let me know how it turns out… i’m really curious!

  5. *WITHOUT my licence as an RN– typo– oops!

  6. Hi, interesting site! I was surfing tags and stumbled on it. I’m a second year RN student in PA, have three kids and most definately don’t work (thanks to my poor guy who works overtime till I graduate)because the workload is STIFF!

  7. oh, I forgot to add, there’s an awesome resourse on wordpress. it’s tiredstudentnurses and it has a lot of great links-some are dated but most are good-and other neat stuff

  8. Okay — I called the community college that requires one to become a CNA prior to acceptance in the ADN program. When asked why the CNA is required, they could not give me a reason, other than “it just has always been.” In further research of the college, I learned that they are only a “candidate for accreditation by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.” Given that, I don’t believe I will go to that school. What’s unfortunate is that it’s the cheapest around.

  9. That sucks Julie. Again, I’m not sure if it means that it’s a no-go, but perhaps talk to other schools and see how they are. Let me know how it goes..

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