Managing a full-time job, especially one as demanding as nursing, and then tackling an online degree on top of it all is no easy feat. Full-time jobs are regularly stressful and exhausting. Just completing an eight-hour shift is often the most that any one person can handle in the day. In shift work like nursing, it can be even worse. Yet, in those careers that cannot be progressed without formal qualifications, it is your only option.
Struggling through it, feeling like you are only just holding your head above water, however, is not the only reality ahead of you. There are many great ways to improve your energy levels, your health, and your fortitude. Preparation is key, as is having dedication. With both on your side, you can succeed at your job and graduate at the top of your class.
Being dedicated and truly, 100% committed to completing your degree while working full time is one of the most important components to your success.
Is the Degree Accredited?
Accreditation isn’t everything. In some degrees, it is just a nice thing to have. For others, like nursing, it helps ensure that the degree you are pursuing will allow you to take the state exam and teach you everything that you know. There are several accrediting factors as well. Marymount University, for example, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges for its doctoral and master’s degrees, and is also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education for their MSN and DNP degrees.
These accreditations are all you need to know that the degrees included will teach you everything that you needand that the support available will help you succeed in every way possible. It takes a lot of worries right off of your shoulder, so look for those accreditations and check with the state exam requirements to make sure that you have a worthwhile degree on your hands.
Is it Designed with Working Professionals in Mind?
The second thing to consider when choosing a degree is that it was designed for working professionals in mind. Nurses often don’t have that the ability to take time off to tackle their degree full-time. They have responsibilities, bills, and their career to think about. With all that in mind, it is important that the degree they choose isn’t just some night course, but an online degree that was designed with them in mind.
With these two qualifications, at the very least, you can be sure that the degree you are pursuing will help you achieve your goals. There are other factors to consider, including the level of student support, career support, whether they provide placement, and even who is teaching. All of these factors will make a difference, but use these considerations to help you make your final decision from your accepted list. Apply to good options, and accept the best of the lot.
Knowing beyond a doubt that your degree will help you achieve your goals is a great way to stay dedicated to the effort throughout the degree. That being said, dedication and commitment aren’t going to help you thrive. They will simply help you through the bad days.
To help you succeed both at work and at your online degree, you will want to use these tips:
Start with your health. Though mental health can suffer even with a perfectly healthy body, at the end of the day, physical suffering plays a key role in how you feel and what you can do. It is also far easier to control. By working to build up your health, you may see your mental health improve, your energy levels, and how well you learn. It’s the perfect base to help you succeed at becoming an APRN, or any other higher-level position that requires a state exam to qualify.
- Sleep Regularly
Mug after mug of coffee can never replace the benefits of a good night’s rest for your mind and energy levels. The brain cannot last long on minimal sleep. Caffeine only works to speed up your heart rate. This gives you a boost of alertness due to the oxygen pumping into your brain, but it doesn’t actually reverse how tired you are.
Getting a good night’s rest can be as simple as being strict with when you go to sleep, and when you wake up, or it may need additional tactics. Working as an engineer or lawyer can involve long nights, but more often than not, you will have the chance to be consistent with your schedule. With nursing, which often involves inconsistent shift work, getting that good night’s sleep is much harder.
Instead of going to bed at the same time, have the same nighttime routine. Try to keep away from your phone or electronics, and treat yourself to relaxing activities. You want your mind to be calm and quiet by the time you have set for yourself to go to sleep.
- Exercise 30 Minutes a Day
If you don’t exercise regularly, or are not on your feet all day and rushing about, then you will want to start trying to fit in a 30-minute exercise every day. Only fifteen minutes of this needs to be vigorous for you to start feeling the benefits.
- Switch Your Snacks
Snacks keep us fueled and powered throughout the day, so switch yours from unhealthy options to whole foods. Nuts are a great choice because they are packed with nutrients, healthy fats, and protein. Fruit is another excellent choice and can be enjoyed fresh or dried. If you have time, you could even put them together in a homemade protein bar that keeps you energized throughout the day.
- Prep Your Meals
Meal prep is great for snacks and for meals. You can prep either portions of the meal or go and get the entire meal ready to go and pop into the microwave at work. Use one of your days off, or even ask friends and family to help.
Your Mental Fortitude
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. However, by addressing your physical needs first, you can scratch off your symptoms and really get to the heart of what is wrong. If you feel great and ready to take on the world, you’re all good to go! If some things haven’t been fixed and still are serious issues you need to contend with, then searching out mental health support is the next step.
- Seek Out Mental Health Help Before You Begin
Finding a therapist, getting on medication, and generally finding a working solution before you begin can help you stay committed. Don’t assume the first try is going to be a perfect fit. It takes some people years to find the right combination and the right therapist, but making that first step is imperative for your health, wellbeing, and success.
- Get Your Support System on Board
You will also want to get your support system on board so that you have people to share in your worries and stresses. Keeping it all bottled up is the worst thing you can do, with or without a predisposed mental illness.
- Adjust Your Efforts
There is no right or wrong way to approach working and completing an online degree. If you need more time, then taking the minimum number of credits is a perfectly suited strategy. Do what it takes and change your efforts as you go.
Combining tasks and studying smarter are also how you can take the stress and pressure off of your chest. Here are a few ways you can get all that done:
- Use Your Commute
If you take public transport, use that time to read or revise. If you drive or bike to work, create voice notes so you can revise on the go. Revision during this time, in particular, is so useful and will take the stress out of the exam.
- Rewrite Your Notes
If you can, rewrite what you learn into your own notes. Everyone learns differently, and by personally explaining concepts to yourself, you can remember much more effectively.
- Start a Study Group
There will be others taking your online degree with you. Start a group, a chat, or use the online tools offered by your university to work with them. Discussion, problem-solving, and communication are a key part of learning.
- Take Regular Breaks
Finally, remember to take breaks, regularly. Take a five-minute break every thirty minutes. Take a half-hour break after every hour. Burning yourself out means you cannot be consistent, and that consistency is how you balance both a career and a degree.
It is mentally and physically exhausting to pursue a degree while working full time. Work in a demanding position like nursing, and the challenge is even greater. Your work demands your time, attention, and compassion. Adding a degree on top of it all can be hard, but with the tips and advice in this guide, you can do it. You can succeed. You can reach your dreams.