How Much Can You Realistically Work During Your NP Program?

Maintaining some semblance of an income is essential for most nurse practitioner students. Living costs, tuition, books, and unforeseen expenses add up. Planning a practical budget and setting reasonable expectations is a must. The life of a working student can be a difficult one and many prospective students aren't sure how many hours they should plan on working during their NP program. What can you expect when it comes to balancing employment with student life?

The Full Time Nurse Practitioner Student

If you plan on working while completing a nurse practitioner program full-time, you've got a busy road ahead. But, balancing work and school as a full-time student is possible. If this is the route you're choosing to take, you must be a high energy person. Taking on two full-time gigs isn't for the feint of heart. Plan on being in class, on a clinical assignment, or at work six to seven days per week. Expect to have very little time for friends and family.

If you elect to go maintain full-time employment as a student, reserve as many vacation days as possible before you start your nurse practitioner program so you can use them during finals week or when scheduling conflicts arise. Some schools don't allow nurse practitioner students to maintain full-time employment during their program so review your school's policies. A full-time work and school arrangement is doable but planning ahead and staying well organized will be essential for your success in both roles. 

Working part-time throughout your NP program is very manageable. You will certainly be busy, but the arrangement is sustainable. Clinical placements are often the biggest hangup in balancing school and work. Make sure your work schedule won't conflict with clinical or classroom obligations. Often, working weekends is the most flexible and practical option for full-time nurse practitioner students. Enrolling in an online NP program will give you the ability to complete didactic coursework at your convenience mitigating scheduling conflicts. 

Securing a PRN position as a full-time student will give you the best work-school balance. A PRN job allows you to say "no" to picking up shifts during finals week while still allowing you to build your resume and earn an income. Before you accept a PRN position, ask about the minimum number of shifts you will be required to work each month. You'll need to make sure to fulfill this obligation. 

The Part-Time Nurse Practitioner Student

Most working students choose to complete their nurse practitioner program on a part-time bais. This gives NP students a much more manageable schedule when it comes to balancing school, work and family. If you work full-time and attend an NP program part-time, you can expect to spend about four to six days per week in the clinical setting between your preceptorship and work duties. Initially, your full-time work schedule will be more easily accommodated as most NP programs begin with didactic coursework before requiring students to train on site in a clinical setting. 

If you plan to work full-time and attend your nurse practitioner program part-time, save up as many vacation days as possible before your program begins. This allows you to cut back on work-related responsibilities when school demands your utmost attention. Make sure that your clinical placements and job schedule will align. Working weekend shifts most easily accommodates an NP program schedule (although not a social life...). Consider attending an NP program that offers courses online for added flexibility. 

Working part-time and enrolling in a part-time NP program is very manageable. This arrangement will allow you to devote plenty of attention to school, work and family. While balancing two part-time committments isn't financially feasable for many students, if you can swing it, this scenario is a lower stress way to make it through your nurse practitioner program with flying colors.

NP Students-have you been successful in managing both work and school? What advice can you offer to upcoming nurse practitioner students?

 

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Comments

I am in an online FNP program. I work full time 36 hours a week with additional committee commitments at work and travel the world as a medical escort . It is a mentally exhausting job with no time to do my homework at the workplace during my shift. I am married and have a 2 year old at home that requires a lot of my time as well. I have 10 months of classes and clinicals to be done. I have found the program to be manageable until now. When I added clinicals in the mix I am basically in clinicals 3 days a week and working 3 days a week. Most of my clinicals and work shifts are 12 hours shifts. I am finding I have little to no time for the demanding homework and no time for my little one. I am the breadwinner so quitting work is not really an option at this point and I have only 10 months left to graduate so quitting school is not an option either. I am at a junction where I have to come up with something fast in order to make my school, work, and home life all manageable.

Mayela Bermudez

WHOA!! Hold up there, lady! I think this advice can really lead folks in to the weeds. First, NP programs vary dramatically. There are some that are quite rigorous and really require full time attention even if you are attending part time. There are some with hardly any requirements that people work through without breaking a sweat.

Second, your other obligations play a huge role in determining whether work and school can be balanced well. Are you the mother of three active middle and high school students? Somethings gotta give and it probably won't be the kids. Planning a wedding and engaged in your community? Same there. Do you get lots of support from a spouse who is a full time parent? Or have grandma on hand a bunch?

Finally, it depends on what you mean by work and how it is you "work." Do you work PRN? Do you work weekends or nights in some extremely slow position where you can study half of your shift? Sit around a flight hangar all day? Or do you work on a busy unit with lots of education commitments?

I really encourage people to ask people who are actively enrolled in or who have graduated from the specific program you are planning on enrolling in. This can save you a lot of time and heartbreak later on.

VICEDRN

It is certainly manageable but very challenging. I am working 30 hours a week and in NP school. Im at the last 6 months of school and making my dreams happen. You can too!

Faye