Going to Nursing School

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Nursing School when baby is 9 months, or wait?

Dec 2009

I am a stay at home mom for my 4 1/2 month old daughter. After applying for nursing school, I became pregnant (unexpectedly). I got into the Samuel Merritt ABSN program and was able to get a deferment (I had to ask special permission) until my baby is 9 months old. My partner and I are both worried about the time commitment, stress and sacrifices, especially my spending less time with our daughter. I read the archives, and they were helpful, but specifically I am wondering about those who have been in an accelerated program with different aged children, if they have any regrets, and which ages they think are ideal? It is hard to think of being away from her, so in that sense, it would be easier on my conscience to wait until she is in preschool or kindergarden. At the same time, I was looking forward to having a little more structure to my life outside of mothering, just to feel balanced. But I think that this accelerated program will be all consuming, and I am quite a perfectionist about grades and studying. I am afraid that if I drop my acceptance, with the competitiveness of getting into nursing programs, I won't be able to get in again later, esp. having prerequisites that might need to have been taken more recently (mine were completed 2007-2009). I wouldn't mind doing a program part time, but my understanding is that part time nursing programs don't exist. Any advice/experience would be sincerely appreciated. at a crossroads

I didn't do an accelerated nursing program, I just got my BSN this spring (a three year program). I have very few regrets in my life (and I've done some *seriously* stupid things), but I have to be blunt and tell you that, right now, I want those three years back.

Nursing school is very hard work, you don't get to pick and choose your hours or where you'll be placed for clinicals. Missing even a day of class or clinicals is very hard to make up so you'll need a very supportive family/friend network to deal with days when the kids are sick, have doctor's appointments, have a performance at school. My support network got very burned out, VERY quickly because I really had to rely heavily on them. I wish I had waited until my kids were a little older (they are 6 and 8). My daughter told me that when she was in first grade that she thought I didn't love her anymore because I just couldn't give her the attention she really needed in, what turned out to be a very tough year for her. I can't imagine an accelerated program in terms of commitment. With all that you need to learn and the required clinical hours for a license I'd imagine you'd never be home.

But, the worst part for me (and for many, many, MANY new grad nurses right now) is that hospitals and nursing homes are only hiring experienced nurses. Yes, there's still a nursing shortage, but positions are filled by travelers from out of state. I was the top of my class, have *many* certifications (ACLS etc), YEARS of management and leadership experience and have spent months and months now pounding the pavement trying to find a job and there aren't any. Friends have moved to Texas, taken non-nursing jobs etc. I wasted my time, my family's time and am heart-sick every single day.

Nursing has traditionally been a *great* job for moms and a great job for people who love people, love science and love a job that requires hard work and constant challenges, but nursing school is terrible for new moms and is a VERY bad career choice now when there are no positions in the bay area. Unemployed, RN

While I can't offer you any real advice about attending nursing school while parenting young children (mine were 11 & 12 when I was going), I can tell you that now is the perfect time to be in school because there are NO JOBS. When I graduated in 2005 I had an offer from every hospital I applied to (I'm in ICU)and our new grad program had 45 brand new RNs in it. This year my hospital has had over 1000 applicants for the new grad program and they will be accepting less than 10. This is solely due to the economic downturn and will cycle back when the economy picks up. Nursing is an awesome profession. It's extremely challenging, even heartbreaking at times, but very rewarding. And the pay, benefits and flexibility can't be beat. Do everything you can to go to school, it will be hard and you'll need a supportive partner, BUT GO! You won't regret it. S.

Congratulations on your baby and on being accepted to nursing school. I am a nurse practitioner who attended an accelerated nursing program (MEPN at UCSF) and then had a baby the following year while attending nursing school to get my masters. I think attending an accelerated program with a baby is difficult. The clinical days can be long and can change each term - do you have childcare that you trust that is available for long hours that may change each term? I actually found attending school even part-time with a baby challenging - the lack of sleep made studying and retaining information much more difficult than before I had my son. Is your baby a good sleeper? Is your partner supportive of school at this time? I believe that no matter what you do as a mother you can find a way to feel guilty about it, but it sounds like you have some reservations about not being at home with your baby at this age and if your partner also has reservations that may add to your stress. And nursing school is very stressful. I think an accelerated nursing program is one of the more difficult ways to transition from being at home with your baby to being outside of the home. It is definitely doable - I had a classmate who started school with a one- month old. She was exhausted and fairly miserable, but her mother took care of her baby, she received a lot of support from her fellow students, and she got through. If you have a compelling reason for needing to get your education now versus waiting and you have support then it may work out for you and be your best choice to go to school now. I know myself I would not have wanted to do that (and I was fairly comfortable leaving my baby in part-time child care at around 5 months.) I also think that having been accepted into the program once you could probably get into it or a similar program in the future and you should definitely check on the time frame for doing the prerequisites - it may be that they need to be done in the previous 5 years, which gives you some time. Good luck! mf

Hi - I am in an accelerated program at Samuel Merritt right now and I say wait. I can't imagine doing this program with two small kids. I have kids, but mine are all in school. You will be incredibly busy. You'll have 30-40 hours per week of class and clinical (often starting at 7am) plus studying and group projects. You will not see your kids very much.

If you don't mind seeing your kids very little, AND you really want to work as a nurse right away, I would go now. Although the new grad market right now is horrific, so you most likely wouldn't get a job for a year or two anyway, so you might as well wait. I know people that graduated over a year ago and still don't have jobs. Most hospitals are not hiring and have stopped their new grad programs.

Your prerequisites will not ''expire'' -- I would defer for a few years. anon

I'm in nursing school now (not in the Bay Area), and wanted to chime in. I agree with some of the posters that nursing school can be hard with a child so young, unless you have a very supportive family and partner. I've actually been taking classes part-time and it has been very manageable. Granted, my children are older (4 & 6) and they are in pre- school/school. I also have a very involved spouse that works from home quite a bit. When my husband travels for work, my father comes over to our house at 5:30 a.m in the morning so I can go to my clinicals at 6:00 a.m. I have 30 weeks of classes left and I'm just counting them down. Many people in my program have young children and most of my classes/clinicals are done by 4:00 so many parents are able to use day-care for their younger children, although at night when you have to study, pre-assess and take care of a toddler it can lead to sleep deprivation. I'm not sure about the job market in the Bay Area, although I did receive info recently from the State for the Boards and will be applying to jobs there. I've actually had job offers during clinicals, although one was working as an interpreter in the hopsital. The schooling and clinical experience is quite intense, but you learn so much and there are a lot of different fields in nursing. I have friends in the Bay Area that work as midwives (of course you need more schooling for that), a couple that work at a biotech company, one that freelances for NIH, and another is a project manager at a hospital. I'd see if you have part-time options, but if you chose to go, just make sure you have help! Best of luck to you! anon

Nursing School and Starting a Family

Jan 2009

After being a public school educator for over 5 years, I have decided to go back to school and pursue nursing as a career. I have chosen to do a traditional BSN program, 3 years, versus a accelerated one or a MSN program,1.5 years, mainly because I really want the extra time and to not feel rushed through a program that will be challenging. 

However, I am 25 and would like to start a family with my partner, sooner than later, and would ideally like to have a child while still in nursing school, and another after. Family and friends are giving tons of advice, but none have actually had babies in college at all. Has anyone had children or small children in Nursing School? Has anyone chosen to do a traditional nursing program over an accelerated one? Thoughts? Any current USF BSN students or alumni that could chime in? Thanks. student and mom?

I'm a nurse that went through a traditional BSN program at a top school in Michigan... and I think you can definitely do both at the same time. I had a friend who was pregnant during her junior year and she survived. (she actually did her maternity rotation while pregnant, which was a lot of fun for her)

If I were you, I'd wait till after your first or second year so that you get the hang of school again. Then you'll have a better understanding of what's expected of you and if you think it will work for you. Just know, the time commitment for nursing school is pretty tough- on top of classes, readings and papers, you have all day clinicals. There's also a ton of info to learn, and not just anatomy/physiology from a book: medical lingo, how hospitals work, ethics, and how to choose the ''most correct'' answer on a multiple choice test when they're all right answers, and hands-on skills.

If you're up to a challenge, and can work through nausea and fatigue, go for it! But I'd encourage you to go to school first- you can't beat the job security, pay and flexible hours as a mommy. (and I think going through school with a toddler/preschooler would be even more challenging).

FYI, MEPN students have a hard time finding jobs in the Bay Area because they have sort of a bad rap for leaving jobs after 1 year (according to my nurse manager friends) because they get the experience they need and then move on to become nurse practitioners.

Feel free to email if you want, Ellie 2nd yr. grad student with 5 month old son

Hi! I started nursing school (CSU East Bay - traditional BSN program) when I was 27 and got pregnant with my first baby during the last year of school. I had my baby three weeks after graduation. I had classmates who also were pregnant and had babies during school. I chose the traditional program because there weren't many accelerated BSN programs in the Bay area at the time. I decided against a MSN program because I wasn't really sure what area I wanted to get a master's degree in. I wanted to get into the field and get to know more about the opportunities first before I committed to case management or nurse practitioner or CNS, or whatever. In retrospect, I wish I'd been able to do an accelerated BSN program because traditional programs are really drawn out! Most of what you'll learn about nursing you'll learn on the floor (of the hospital). You can't learn time management in a classroom. An accelerated program will push you through all the book stuff (patho, pharm, skills) and get you on the floor sooner, where you'll really learn the skills, critical thinking and time management you need to be a good, efficient nurse.

As for having babies in nursing school, you will really need reliable, flexible childcare. Our clinicals rotated every 6 weeks or so, and we'd have a new schedule, often starting at 7am or ending at 10pm. Also, consider the timing of having your babies, too. You won't be able to miss many clinical days or exams, so you may want to plan on a summer baby. If you wait to have a baby your first year out of school, when you are working, you may not be eligible for disability or FMLA untiil you've worked for a year at any one place.

Anyway, I've got lots of thoughts on this, so if you want to ask me more questions or talk anything out, email me.

Good luck to you! Nursing is a terrific profession - almost as good as being a mom! amy

I am in a different place in life than where you stand, but I just finished nursing school (Samuel Merritt in Oakland) and passed the boards. I decided to go to nursing school shortly after my first son was born, as a career change. I took prerequisites for two years and volunteered at a local hospital to be sure nursing was what I wanted to do. I also had my second child during this time, and applied to nursing school when my second was just over a year old. Having two children, studying, and going to class and clinical was exhausting. For me, surviving was all about time management, remembering the light at the end of the tunnel, and having great social and emotional support, as well as a husband willing to pick up almost all of the slack at home. For me it would have been difficult to have a baby during the first year of nursing school; there was so much stress and work.

I can understand that you want to take your time; nursing school presents seemingly endless material to synthesize. But at the same time, I would advise you to think about your long- term plans and goals--is it worth spending an extra year or two paying expensive tuition? What will it take for you to keep your sanity? Having kids right now? What is most important to you? Talk to students in the three-year programs and see what they have to say.

I am not sure if you've taken your prerequisites yet, so that might add on a bit more time to the three years of the program and give you time to start your family first.

I have friends who speak very highly of the USF BSN program; it sounds like a good option (albeit expensive). There's also Cal State East Bay and San Francisco State, both less expensive in terms of tuition but also less organized from what I've heard (e.g., clinical sites and times changing at the last minute, which could be untenable for parents).

Best of luck! New RN

I recently graduated from a BSN program and be forwarned that nursing school requires a lot of time both in and outside of the classroom as well as clinical hours. You will most likely be away from home 4 days and/or evenings a week and you will need several hours of study/prep time each day. I started when my only son entered kindergarden, I didn't work and I still felt like I didn't have much time for family (let alone myself). That being said, there were several women in my class who had small children or babies during the program and I think the key is having a good support system and people you can count on for good childcare. Your schedule is likely to change every couple of months depending on your rotations and classes so having a caregiver who is flexible is important. Keep in mind that unless you have a baby during the summer you won't have any time off. If you were hoping to stay home and bond with your newborn you may want to wait until you graduate. Also,consider what you would do if you need to take time off during or after the pregnancy- there is no maternity leave. If you really want to start a family during the program I recommend waiting until the last 6-7 months when you will likely have fewer classes,less stress and you can spend time at home with your new baby. Wait until you start the program and get a feel of the workload before you make any decisions. Time is on your side, good luck! RN

I wasn't originally going to reply to your inquiry because I assumed that most people would try to talk you out of trying to do nursing school and starting a family at the same time, but now realize I NEED to reply because I was *shocked* that anyone would think it could possibly be done.

I'm a month away from finishing a BSN program here in the bay area and have two young kids (now 5 and 8). Maybe my situation is different because I'm older (41), but nursing school is exhausting and you don't AT ALL get to choose your own hours nor can you start nursing school and pick up where you left off readily (for, say, going into labor or addressing any sort of longer-than-one-week family crisis). One person was pregnant in my year, but had her baby during the summer. Another had her baby in the summer before starting nursing school. I'm sure both have very nearby family, *very* wired and flexible childcare and the ability to get minimal sleep and still be able to function under a huge amount of pressure.

I would absolutely not recommend doing nursing school at the same time as starting a family. I just can't imagine how it could possibly work out unless you had miraculous timing and the aforementioned gigantic support network.

I am even reluctant to recommend going to nursing school and trying to raise young kids. It has been very, very hard and I'm an organized person lucky enough to have a supportive husband and nearby family (all of whom are completely burned out in the helping dept at this point, by the way). I Miss My Kids

I am currently in nursing school part-time, taking one or two classes per quarter, and wanted to answer your post. My children are older (pre-school and kindergarten), so it is more manageable. I'm taking it slower than I had planned, but I honestly didn't want to be rushed and I have a very part-time job I enjoy a few mornings a week in the educational field. I also like to have most of my afternoons with the kids when they are out of school, so part-time is working out well.

There are many factors to consider-the type of program-there are some amazing intense accelerated nursing programs that allow you to finish in one year, RN programs at a community college, or a BSN at a University. Also factor in whether you have family or a good support system to help you out. You could even start on some pre-requisites in the meantime. I was able to complete most of the pre-reqs before kids, and they were challenging for me. The rest of the coursework is concepts and clinicals for me, so more hands on work, not as difficult, but can be a little time consuming if done all at once.

My sister and brother-in-law just started residency. Many of their classmates had children the second year of med school, which must be hectic, but certainly doable. Sounds like time is on your side too!

Good luck RN in 2010

What type of nursing degree? Wait until Children are older?

June 2006

I have a BS in health education and am thinking about going back to school to become a nurse. I'm just not sure which type of degree I should pursue. A Master's, a second Bachelor's or an Associate's? Is it better to wait until my children are in school to begin a program? (They are currently 4 and almost 2 years old) I have completed all of the pre-req's as an undergraduate, but that was almost 7 years ago....how current do I need to be? Also, I'm not sure which area of nursing I would like to focus on. Do the programs expose you to different specialty areas or do you need to know which area you want to focus on before beginning. Any advice or information is appreciated anon

Hi, I am currently a nurse and what I would recommend for you to do is to go thru a MEPN program. it's desiged for people who want to become a nurse who already have their bachlor's degree. in addition to being able to sit for the rn boards you also get a master's degree. the program tends be accelerated so it could be demanding with two little ones. i've found that nurses with bachelor degrees make more money and are more respected than those with aa degrees. not to say that there arent some really awesome nurses with aa degrees out there. two of the best nurses i've ever worked with have aa degrees. if it doesnt seem like you'd be able to go into a master's entry program then i would consider the aa program. good luck to you! and congratulations on choosing to become a nurse. it's a really great profession! shaomei

With a degree in health ed you have two viable options for becoming an RN. If you are interested mainly in working as an RN caring for patients your best and fastest way to go would be to get an associates degree (ADN) in nursing- taking about 2 years. If you have already completed most of your pre-req's they would not make you repeat them. Most schools require classes current within 5-7 years, so it seems you are right on the cusp.

If you are interested in pursuing a master's degree there are programs that provide your MSN in 3 years. UCSF has a MEPN (Master's Entry Prepared Nurse) program that is quite rigorous. Samuel Merritt also has a program. The kicker is, that most nurses are not paid based on education. An RN w/ a MSN is paid the same as w/ an associates degree. MSN programs in this area are quite expensive- $40-$60k total, while ADN programs cost about $75 per class.

If you did go the ADN route, there are many programs that bridge from the ADN to BSN. You'd do this by taking 4 or 5 bachelor's level classes. You'd then have a BSN and be able to go on for a MSN if you so desired later on in life.

A nursing program prepares you as an entry level nurse in any capacity. In order to specialize you would receive on the job training and education from your employer. For example, if you wanted to be an OB nurse, you'd get a job in OB, be given a mentor and the appropriate education and experience related to that area. The same is true in any given specialty.

Nursing programs are rigorous and expect that your family will make sacrifices due to the extensive time commitment. It's ambitious of you to start a program with a 2 year old, but there are PLENTY of adult learners w/ families in nursing programs. It can be done! geppie

Hi. I missed the original post, but based on some of the responses, it sounds like you already have a bachelors degree and are looking into options for becomine a nurse. That's the position I'm in too, so I thought you might be interested to know that Samuel Merritt College has a new (just started last year) accelerated BSN program. In this program someone who already has a bachelor's degree in a different field can become an RN in just one year (after fulfilling all the prerequisites). They also don't have a ''recency'' requirement for the prereq's, so even if you took them more than 7 years ago, they still count. It's an incredibly intensive program, and expensive too (I think the one year tuition is something like $45k), but for someone who already has a bachelor's degree, it's definitely the fastest way to become an RN -- even faster than an ADN program, which takes at least 2 years (already having a degree doesn't make the ADN program shorter, though it may mean it will take less time for you to cover the prereq's).

If you want to be an advanced practice nurse, such as a nurse practitioner, then an MEPN program (which takes 3 years to get an MSN) would make sense, but if you just want to be an RN, the accelerated BSN program might be the best choice for you.

Good luck from another future nurse! :) Diane

Part-time nursing school?

Dec 2005

Hi there, I am currently doing my prerequisites for a nursing program....and i am hoping some of you have been down this path and can answer a few questions for me. First, Has any one done their nursing as a part time program, and where? I am looking at applying to the Sf State MSN, Merritt college and Contra costa city college. None of these schools say on their web sites that they have part time options, but i know that sometimes once your in you can change things up a bit. Second, what would happen if say, i got pregnant and had a baby during the program, could i defer? I am trying to decide if i should apply soon, even though i am going to be trying to get pregnant......or if i should wait until this future child of mine is in school. thanks thanks cris

I graduated from nursing school in May. Nursing programs are incredibly demanding and all are full time. Your post states that you have looked into a masters program (UCSF), a bachelors program (Samuel Merritt) and an ADN program (Contra Costa). Please be aware that the prerequisites will differ based on the school and the degree sought. This is one of the biggest hurdles of applying to different schools. In my program I was in class all day three days a week and in clinical all day (or in some cases, all night) the other two days. Clinical days can be weekdays or weekends. Clinical shifts can be 6:30 am to 3, or 3 pm to 11, or 11 pm to 7 am. If you are accepted into a program you will conform to the schedule of the program, not the other way around - please don't fool yourself that this is up for negotiation - it isn't. Entrance into nursing programs is incredibly competitive, my school typically had hundreds of qualified applicants for 40 to 50 openings. Nursing is a fabulous career but you need to be very realistic of what will be expected of you - it is hard!

Ok, lastly...the baby thing. My two are teenagers and it was still difficult for them what with me being so focused on school and having to study so much. Yes there is the option of taking one semester off and restarting the program but why would you want to lose momentum and set yourself up like that? Finish school and THEN have another child or have the child and then go back to school. NightNurse

You can go to nursing school part time, but that usually only works for the first year - even for the schools that hook you by saying you can go part time. after that you go to clinicals and that's almost impossible to do part time. as for kids, I had classmates who were raising/having kids during nursing school and I honestly don't know how they did it. the volume of work is incredible. it was all I could do to keep a part time job to pay the rent and do the school work. I wouldn't recommend doing both at the same time. go to school full time and get it done THEN have kids. RN

Sept. 2002

I want to become a registered home-health nurse, but I cannot find a program that requires less than full time classes. I am an at-home mom, and need night and/or weekend classes. I already have a BA(not in nursing)and MSW degree. I know UCSF has a great MPH/nursing program, but the hours won't work for me in the next few years. For now, I think I just need an RN program. Does anyone know of any place that would allow part-time nursing students? Any leads greatly appreciated! Michele

Try Holy Names College in Oakland. I know they have a nursing program and most of the courses offered take place in the evenings or weekends. Good luck. Maria

Nursing as second career for single parent?

Oct 2005

I'm a 46 year old single mom of a 3 year old boy (I adopted him at birth as a single, so I have no co-parent at all). I am probably going to be laid off of my job soon due to funding cuts, and am considering a major career change. I have a PhD in chemistry and already did one big career change when I switched from chemistry to energy and environmental work many years ago. Now I'm thinking of an even bigger change -- I think I want to be a nurse when I grow up! I want a job that's meaningful, useful, and where I can work directly with people. It's hard for me to think of anything more useful than helping people stay healthy and alive! I'm leaning towards pediatric nursing, either in a hospital or maybe a doctor's office.

I've read all the posts in the archive on this topic, which were quite helpful. However, those posts seemed to mostly be geared towards becoming an ''advanced practice nurse'', which requires a masters degree. I think I'd be quite happy just being a working RN. I'm leaning towards getting an associate degree (ADN) and am considering the program at Ohlone College, since this is way less costly than the various BSN programs I'm aware of.

So, all of this is a long preamble to my questions. I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has taken the associate degree route to RN, especially if you happen to be a recent grad of Ohlone. How many years did it take you to complete the program, including doing the required prerequisites before admission to the nursing program? Is it possible to do this part time (while also working part time), either at Ohlone or elsewhere in the Bay Area? I'd also like to hear from single parents who tried to obtain a nursing degree as a single parent, whether you were successful or not -- if you were, how did you manage? And if not, what were the pitfalls?

Does having an ADN rather than a BSN make any difference in what types of jobs I could get? I've read contradictory things about whether BSN-RN's make more money or not. Are there some specific nursing jobs I couldn't get with an ADN, and if so, what are they?

Also, what kind of salary could I expect as an entry-level RN working in a hospital? In a doctor's office?

Any other words of advice or wisdom for an aspiring nurse? Thanks in advance!

Sorry this post may be a bit disjointed - just came off a 5 day stint - I graduated in May from an ADN program (I'm 45) and was offered a position at every hospital to which I applied. The starting pay for a new grad is between $33.00 to $45.00 an hour (depends on the shift). Nursing can be very rewarding but it is also HARD WORK - physically and emotionally. As far as school goes - it took me three years to complete the prereqs and the RN program. Be forewarned that the prereqs differ from program to program. Two year programs (community college) are much, much cheaper and faster than private programs but can be VERY difficult to get into. Nursing schools in CA are impacted - many more qualified applicants than positions - you MUST apply to several schools to increase your chances of getting in (SF City College, College of Marin, Contra Costa Community College, Los Medanos - be prepared to travel!). As far as working and attending school part time - fine for prereqs (although unless your work schedule is VERY flexible you may find you are unable to take some classes), but nursing school is full time. I was in class or in the hospital five days a week the first semester and four days a week the rest of the time. Hospital rotations are from 6:30 am until 3:30 or from 1 or m until 10 or 11 pm. Make sure you have great (and flexible) childcare.

There can be a salary difference for BSN and ADN but it usually is about $1-$2/hour. Yes there are some jobs that you will need a BSN for (management) but at your age I'd go for the ADN and make sure I like nursing before getting an advanced degree. Besides, once you have the RN you can complete a ADN to BSN program in a year (my hospital offers a program for this purpose). By the way, one of my classmates in nursing school also had a PhD in Chemistry - you'll be surprised the wide variety of people you'll find in community colleges. I was by no means the oldest person in our program (I think the average age was 28, the oldest person was 55). Good luck! NightNurse

You can go for a 'regular' RN however you want and get to work. Later, if you like,you can go to Holy Names University and upgrade to a BSN (they have a program for working RNs) which would enable you to a)make more money and b)work in Public Health, which means no more weekends, holidays, or odd shifts. This is handy when your kid is in school. Nursing is hard work these days (overworked/underpaid) but very rewarding and very flexible. I have done MANY things with my BSN. You're making a terrific choice. Best of luck. Bonnie