Nurses: Here’s How to Balance Work, Family & School
April Wojcik had been a registered nurse for 20 years when she decided to go back and earn her bachelor’s in Chamberlain’s RN to BSN Online Option.
“I was fearful that I wasn’t going to be able to juggle life, work, family and school,” she said. “I didn’t want to shortchange any of them. There was that big fear of, ‘Oh my gosh, can I do this? And can I do this and work? And can I do this and manage a family? And can I do this and still have a life?” I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do that. And I did it.”
Within 15 months of starting in March 2015, Wojcik completed the program with a 3.99 GPA while working more than 40 hours per week (and sometimes up to 75!) and with a husband and daughter at home. She recently shared her tips for making it all work:
1. Where There’s a Plan, There’s a Way Once April got started, she realized that school didn’t need to hold her back from anything – as long as she had a plan. Her first course at Chamberlain covered time management and how students could plan their days and weeks to be successful in their courses.
“I was organized, and once I set that plan up, I stuck with it and it worked,” she said. “I didn’t live around school, I lived around life and school just sort of fit in. I made it fit. I didn’t stop my life for school.”
April set times for her schoolwork, when nothing else could be planned. She could be flexible if something came up – as long as she planned ahead. During the program, her family took several vacations and she also underwent a major surgery.
“Mondays were my reading nights,” she said. “Saturday mornings I wrote papers. I knew I couldn’t work on Saturday when I had a paper due, or I started that paper earlier. I was always looking ahead and I didn’t wait until the last minute. If you wait until the last minute, it won’t work. For the most part, if I planned it we could do anything."
2. Go Mobile!
During her lunch break, April would sign on to Chamberlain’s app and see her classmates’ latest discussion posts. By the time she got home in the evening to participate in the discussions, she had already been thinking about what she would write in her replies. The mobile app also gave her more flexibility to stay connected with her coursework, no matter where she was.
“The app was wonderful,” she said. “I could go anywhere. I could go on vacation and click on it – it kept me in touch. You could look at your grades immediately, you could correspond with your teacher, you could call support. Whatever you needed was at your fingertips.”
3. Make it a Family Affair
As April considered returning to school, she sat down to discuss the decision with her husband and 13-year old daughter.
“We made a pact as a family,” she said. “If we did this, it was a family venture. It wasn’t just my venture, because it was going to take the work of all of us. Of course I did the classes, but life still goes on. Everybody chipped in doing housework and cooking and cleaning and running errands.”
Many evenings, April would pick up her daughter and come home to start studying, while her husband cooked dinner. She credits her family’s support and encouragement with getting her to the finish line.
4. Make Use of Support
There was no reason to waste time if you hit a bump at Chamberlain – someone was always there to help.
“I never felt alone,” she said. “I could reach out to my professors at any time and they responded promptly. Anytime I had an issue, I called the tech support, they resolved the issue promptly. I was halfway through my test one time and the computer stopped working. I panicked. I got on the phone with Chamberlain and they fixed it. The tech was so reassuring and it all worked out wonderfully. They were totally supportive of me all the time. Anytime I needed anything.”
Outside of Chamberlain, April also found that talking through some of the concepts with her coworkers also helped her successfully grasp her coursework.
“With the thread discussions, they want you to incorporate your life experiences with what you’re learning,” she said. “I have 20 years of experience as a nurse to draw from and then if I got stuck, I would discuss the topic with my coworkers and we would troubleshoot and then I’d incorporate it into my classes.”
When asked her advice for nurses considering returning to advance their education, April’s message was simple: “You can do it. It doesn’t matter what you have on you plate. I’ve proven that. I don’t know why I waited so long.”
RN to BSN Option here or watch more of April’s story below: