Part six of an eight part series, Karen’s Corner outlines advice and insight on going back to school from our very own Dr. Karen Whitham, assistant dean, undergraduate nursing programs.
For those of you with family, going back to school may seem like an impossible balancing act that may leave one or more members of your family feeling short-changed. However, I am living proof that you can emerge from your completed program with your relationships and family unit intact. With a little help from your loved ones, you can earn your degree and still participate in family life. You may need to experiment a little bit to find what works for you, but below are some guiding principles.
Carving out your space
Are you the kind of person that needs a quiet room to concentrate? If so, is there a room in your house where you can get 10-15 hours a week to study without being constantly interrupted? If not, it may be faster and easier to get class work done outside the home. As for me, I wanted to be in the living room where I could study and not feel isolated from my family. This had the added bonus of setting a wonderful example for my children. The point is, you need to find what works for you and then just stick with it.
Include family events in your calendar
If you’ve been following my blog, you know that my favorite bit of advice is to keep a calendar with everything in it: work schedule, study time, project deadlines, your kids’ school plays, date night with your spouse, your favorite Aunt’s birthday, etc. The few minutes you spend planning will save you countless hours and the potential heartbreak of missing important family events. This allows you to work ahead on class projects to free up time for the things you don’t want to miss.
Just say no
As nurses, we are in a helping profession. We have a tendency to want to do for others at the expense of our own well-being. Look at your calendar and prioritize: family, work, study and self-care. Don’t always assume that you can rob your sleep and skip exercising so that you can avoid saying no to other things. Let your friends and family know that your BSN is important, and that you appreciate their patience, understanding and support while you are in the program.