Working as a nurse is a very demanding job both in the hours that nurses must work and the emotional and mental challenges that they face regularly. Often on the frontlines of healthcare, a nurse must be an adaptable individual who is always ready and willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Some nurses aspire to become experts or specialists in a specific field of medicine. This can be a tricky thing to manage as most nurses need to continue working while obtaining an advanced degree geared towards helping them to become a specialist. Since the demands of the job, in general, are so significant, some nurses might feel intimidated by the thought of going to school while continuing to work at the same time.

If you are looking to enroll in an advanced degree program to achieve everything that you want to out of your nursing career, the good news is that this is something that nurses across the country manage to do. Here are a few things that you could do to help you earn your advanced degree while you continue to work as a nurse.

Pick the Right Program

The first thing you will need to do as you start your journey to earning an advanced nursing degree is to find and enroll in the right program for you. Depending upon your current level of education, you might be looking to obtain either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Some career tracks in nursing even require a doctorate. As you can imagine, the difficulty level rises with each type of degree. You will need to identify exactly what type of degree you need to earn to achieve your goals and then find the right program that suits your circumstances.

There are many different programs out there to choose from, but it is essential to keep in mind the hours that are going to plan to work when you pick the one for you. For instance, it is much more manageable to earn a DNP online as opposed to having to participate in a degree program that is set in a classroom or lecture hall for the most part. While such degrees will still very likely require clinical hours in combination with online lectures and assignments, it can be much more easily managed.

It will take a fair amount of research and self-reflection to find the right program to suit your employment situation, but this will prove to be the most helpful thing you can do to manage to both work and study at the same time.

Get Organized

If you are going to work to earn a degree while continuing to work full time, then you are going to need to be extremely organized. Not only does this mean that you will need to invest in a good planner and stay on top of all of your important dates and deadlines, but you will also need to create a good space wherein you can complete your studies and assignments when you are at home.

Whether you are going to attend classes in person or complete your degree online, it is essential to designate a specific room or place in your home where you will complete your schoolwork. A home office would be most ideal as this would be a space that you can close off to the other distractions of your house when need be. This is not always a possibility, though.

Those who don’t have a home office can still create the perfect studying environment for themselves where they can complete all necessary coursework without distractions. Make sure that everything you need is within reach and that your space is comfortable and well lit. Failure to have a designated and functional study space might leave you open to distractions, something that those who are working while earning a degree can’t really afford to have.

Become a Master Communicator

When you are trying to balance work and school, the most essential skill that you need to be proficient in is communication. You will need to be able to communicate well with your employer and coworkers so that they are aware of any key exam dates or major assignment deadlines that might get in the way of work. Because the degree you are earning will likely positively contribute to what you bring to the table at your job, your employer will be able to understand and work with you on such things so long as you communicate them effectively.

Furthermore, chances are that work and school aren’t the only two things that you have in your life right now. Your personal relationships and other commitments are essential as well. Your friends and loved ones will surely be able to support you in your endeavors, but only if you communicate your situation to them.

Build Your Support System

Those who choose to work and earn a degree at the same time will need to have a reliable support system around them. You need to be aware of the fact that at some point or other, you will need help managing all the demands of your job, your degree, and your life. You might also struggle at times to manage the stress associated with everything that you are trying to accomplish. For this reason, you should have a system of friends and family members that you know you can rely on.

Whether you need help collecting the kids from school a few days a week or if you don’t quite have the time one evening to get dinner on the table, your support system will be there to help pick up the slack. Remember that these are individuals who want to see your succeed and achieve all that you aspire to in your career. It is ok to ask for help in such circumstances. A good support system is essential to your success as you work and earn your advanced nursing degree.