Want to go back to school but feeling unsure how you’ll balance work, school and life responsibilities?
Andria L. Heiser, RN (soon to be BSN!), can relate. She’s a registered nurse pursuing her RN-BSN at the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, an accredited, private four-year college in Lancaster, Pa. The college offers associate and baccalaureate degree programs as well certificate programs and online courses for a variety of careers in health sciences. Andria works full time and has two school age boys at home. She says she always wanted to be a nurse, even as a young girl, and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. She practiced as an RN for 15 years before pursuing her bachelor’s degree. In this Q&A, Andria shares what it’s really like juggling it all.
Q. Where do you work/what kind of nursing do you practice?
A. I work at Women’s and Babies Hospital in nursing administration. I’m a nursing supervisor and my background is labor & delivery and NICU.
Q. What made you decide to go back to school?
A. A BSN is a requirement for my position, and it was always a personal goal.
Q. What reservations did you have about taking the plunge? What were your biggest fears?
A. I was most concerned about the time commitment when it comes to schoolwork. In addition to working full time, I have two children at home. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to balance work, school and family.
Q. How stressful has the process been compared to how you imagined it would be?
A. It’s been up and down. Some classes are less work than others — those tend to be less stressful. But even with the heavier classes, I found that you do what you need to do to get through it. The biggest stressor is feeling like I don’t have any personal downtime.
Q. How do you manage your course load?
A. I make the most of every moment. Every spare minute is used to get schoolwork done, whether that means getting up early or staying up late. There isn’t a clinical requirement in the BSN program, but we do have to volunteer for 30 hours. I broke it down into a manageable time commitment. I do one hour each week of volunteer time so that I don’t feel overwhelmed.
Q. What tips would you give to other nurses who are considering going back to school or are having trouble balancing it all?
A. Just do it! It may not be easy, but the direction of nursing is moving toward a minimum of a BSN. Encourage your family and/or significant other to commit to helping with household chores so that you have more time to do schoolwork, which will in turn allow for more family time. Time management is critical to getting through school while working full time, especially if you have family needs to tend to. Also, realize that you can’t do everything. Your house is not going to be as clean as it was, and there is not as much free/personal time, but it is only temporary. Try to get all school work done so that you have at least one day a week that does not involve working or doing schoolwork.
Have you gone back to school while juggling a job and home life? What was the hardest part? How did you manage to get through it?