Moms are often called superheroes – and for good reason. Those who are nursing students have an extra layer to juggle with raising children, work, homework and the everyday happenings of life. Throw being a single mom into the mix and an extra level of organization, determination and perseverance is required to be successful.
“As long as you set your mind to something, you can do it. I didn’t know resiliency until I became a single mom going through nursing school,” said Amanda Beesley (pictured at left with her son), a 3-Year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) student on Chamberlain’s Jacksonville campus. “Earning your degree is going to be the most rewarding and the most challenging thing you’re ever going to do in your life.”
From finding a support system to sticking to a study schedule, here are some tips for success from single moms who are making it work in nursing school:
1. Establish a System for Time Management
Whether you use two calendars or squeeze in study time, managing your time is a skill that can’t be taken for granted.
“I have my calendar on my phone and a large paper calendar at my desk,” said Jessica Matos, a BSN student from the Miramar campus. “I received a good foundation in LPN school, so this program is a great a refresher for me. I take advantage of when I’m not in class or working, and when my son’s in school, to do some studying and reading.”
Amanda also takes advantage of any down-time to focus on her studies.
“I do my best to do all my studying during the week while at school or while my two-year-old is asleep,” she said. “I work on campus in a work-study position at the SIMCARE lab. Depending on the session and depending on how busy the lab is, I know I can sometimes do homework while at work, but can’t rely on it.”
2. Find Your Support System
Having a support system that can root you on and help out when you need extra time to study or work can make all the difference.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You just have to find your support system and you have to have perseverance,” said Benniesha Scott, a BSN student on the Pearland campus. “My family and friends are my support system. I’ve taught my 16- and 14-year-old children to cook and manage themselves and they help a lot with the younger children (six- and seven-years-old).
3. Keep Your Motivation Front and Center
Take time to reflect on the reason you’re becoming a nurse – the extra inspiration will keep you going through the long study sessions to graduation.
“My children are my biggest motivation,” said Benniesha. “They tell me that I can do this. My grandmother and father are big inspirations for me as well. Also, before she passed away in 2015, my mother told me that she wanted me to finish school, and I promised her I would. I’m one of the first to have a degree in my family.”
Jessica reminds herself of the example she’s setting for her son in advancing her education – and the life she hopes to create for them once she earns her degree.
“My son is the number one person who keeps me going—that’s my drive,” said Jessica. “I want to be able to own my own house, to be able to provide for him and not have to rely on someone else. I want to say, ‘I did this. I struggled through it all, but I was able to accomplish this.’ We always tell each other that we want a two-story house with a pool in the back, a lake nearby and a big backyard so he can play. That’s our dream.”
4. Get Excited about Your Career after Graduation
Reminding yourself of your “why” – your reason for taking this step in your career – can boost your confidence and drive throughout the program.
“I’m focused on the end result,” said Amanda. “I want to work in the emergency department because I enjoy ER nursing and it’s where I’ve been doing my preceptorship. Long-term, I would love to be a flight nurse on a helicopter and earn my nurse practitioner license with a focus on emergency medicine.”
Furthering her education is also top-of-mind for Jessica.
“I’m excited for what the future holds,” she said. “As soon as I graduate, I’m going to start working and then inquire about the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program at Chamberlain.”
5. Think of What You’d Tell Single Moms Considering Going Back to School
Sometimes taking your own advice can help you persevere.
“Go for it,” said Jessica. “It will be challenging at the beginning, but it’s definitely doable if you learn time management. You see when you can fit in your study time and when you can fit in your personal time, because everyone needs time for themselves—especially in nursing school as a single parent.”
By Meg Tokars
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