Figuring out how you’re going to balance your nurse work and life isn’t something that starts after you graduate nursing school – It starts now. I know many students with the mentality of “I don’t have a life now, but once I get out of nursing school I’ll go back to having a life.” Newsflash: Life as a nurse is demanding, usually entailing at least three 12 (so, 13-14) hour shifts per week, plus the potential to be on call, graduate or CE courses, staff meetings, in-service trainings, conferences… You name it, there are a million and one ways in which being a nurse can soon take up your entire life. Being willing to give your entire life to nursing school is setting you up to have no life during orientation, graduate school, and basically your entire career as a nurse.
Currently I am in a comparatively easy gerontology/med-surg course. I have been encouraging my classmates to make the most of this opportunity and, while still studying frequently, to do some fun, lifey, mental-health-rejuvenating activities. Here is a breakdown of a typical week for me:
Monday: Study, potentially with a friend at a coffee shop. Catch up on household chores/personal to-dos.
Tuesday: Attend lecture and lab. Study at home. Work 4 hours. Relax at home or dinner out with friends.
Wednesday: Lunch with a friend. Study at home. Catch up on reading/Netflix/movies.
Thursday: Attend lecture. Often some sort of work/school meeting, if not study at coffee shop with friend. Work 4 hours. Clinical prep and early bedtime.
Friday: Clinical day. Spend time with family after. Relax at home.
Saturday: Work 4 hours, can usually study at work. Go see boyfriend.
Sunday: Church. Hang out with friends, possibly fit in some studying.
I am getting in multiple hours of studying each week, while maintaining a solid 7-8 hours of sleep per night, a light work schedule, and getting time with family and friends. Additional hours of studying can easily be added for more difficult courses without having to eliminate all of my fun/relaxation times. Granted, it does help that I still live with my parents and do not have children (I respect you mother/father nursing students so much!). However, I tell you my schedule not as a guide for your own life, but to demonstrate that with a little planning and prioritizing, nursing school does not have to consume your life!
You have my permission and encouragement: Do not make nursing school your life. Define your priorities and your work(school)/life balance NOW.