With so many different levels of nursing degrees, credentials, and specialties to choose from, many travel nurses may decide they would like to go back to school to pursue more education in a certain field or degree program. However, with the type of lifestyle that travel nurses have, it may seem impossible to juggle travel nursing assignments and a full school workload.
Fortunately, with the right habits and mindset, it is possible for travel nurses to go back to school while keeping up with their career. After all, pursuing higher education is expensive, so it helps to have a job that offers a flexible schedule and many other benefits.
Here are some of our top tips for travel nurses who want to go back to school but aren’t exactly sure where to start.
1. Talk to Others Who Have Gone Back to School While Traveling
You may find that other nurses you know, especially those who you work with, are either going back to school as well or have done so in the past. This is a great opportunity to seek out advice from other nurses. Chances are, former or current students will offer a more realistic point of view of what working while going to school is like, unlike someone who hasn’t done it before.
When talking to other travel nurses about going back to school, consider asking certain questions such as the following:
- How did they juggle being a travel nurse and going to school?
- How did they make the busy schedule work for them?
- Did they reduce their school or work schedule, or did they take a break from working completely?
- Is online or in-person schooling better?
With an accurate point of view from another fellow traveler, you can go into your education decisions with more confidence in knowing you’re not the only one who may end up juggling school and your career.
2. Talk to Your Recruiter About Your Desires
If you’re unsure of how to take on your education and your travel nursing career at the same time, your recruiter is here to help. They can assist you in finding flexible nursing assignments that work with your schedule and allow you to go back to school. It’s best to openly communicate and be honest about your aspirations so they can help you along the way.
Never feel afraid that your travel nursing agency will penalize you for pursuing higher education. Most agencies should embrace the fact that you want to go back to school. If you’re only available on certain days of the week, or you can only work shorter shifts, tell your recruiter what you need to succeed in your career and your education.
3. Determine What Is Feasible for You
As you take on both travel nursing and more advanced education, it’s important to set boundaries and realistic expectations for yourself so you’re not constantly overloaded or stressed. Think ahead and be proactive about creating a schedule that sets you up for success but also gives you time to explore or go out with friends. Juggling work and school is tough, so giving yourself scheduled free time is essential to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Some tips for travel nurses who want to go back to school but are worried about handling a packed schedule can include:
- Avoid starting a new travel nursing contract the same week that you start school. You don’t want to miss out on important information during your first week of classes if you’re stuck in work orientation all week.
- Set realistic academic goals. Are you aiming for straight As, or can you settle for some Bs? Try to use to-do lists and a set schedule to stay productive and go for the grades you’re hoping for.
- Take time zones into consideration. If your school is in a different location than your travel nursing assignment, deadlines and exam times may be affected.
- Choose how much you’ll work versus how much time you spend in school. If one of the reasons you love being a travel nurse is the adventure of being somewhere new, you may decide on a part-time curriculum to give yourself more free time.
Ultimately, what are you looking for in your career? What are you hoping to obtain from school? By answering these questions ahead of time, you can figure out what exactly is feasible for you.
4. Consider Both In-Person and Online Options
While online school is a very flexible option for traveling nurses, in-person schooling shouldn’t necessarily be ruled out. Online schooling is convenient because it can be done from anywhere, giving you more options for which school you would like to attend. On the other hand, many people find they may learn better in an in-person program, and you can work with your travel nursing recruiter to find assignments near the school you’ll be attending.
Whether hybrid, distant, or completely in-person, many programs are willing to work with you if you communicate what you need ahead of time. Some hybrid programs may only require you to be on campus once or twice a semester, so you’ll have to figure out if this is feasible while you’re traveling for work.
Going back to school as a travel nurse can be a wise decision for many who are looking to further their career and become more marketable candidates for future nursing positions. As you decide whether furthering your education is right for you, consider what your schedule will look like and what is possible for you.
Thinking about becoming a travel nurse? Reach out to OneStaff Medical today at 877-783-1483 or browse our current job listings.