7 tips for combining nursing study with work


Mariel Rufina Tan worked fulltime through her Nursing degree and is now doing postgrad study while also working fulltime as an RN. She has some valuable advice for other working students.

Mariel [right]: Some students choose not to work while furthering their education; however there are a great number who are balancing a job while studying for a degree. This requires good time management and prioritisation.

I worked full time while I did my Bachelor of Nursing and I’m still working full time as a registered nurse while now studying the Juris Doctor of law. From this experience, I’ve learned a lot I’d love to share with you.

1. Course time management: The first thing I always do is get my course outline and work out my academic timetable. I note down when all the assessments are due and the marking percentages so I can plan for the semester. It’s handy to divide the semester up into weeks, look at the topics to be covered and set yourself a schedule for when you have to do the readings and tutorial preparation. It’s important to set a day for studying. Trust me when I say this, last minute study is not your friend, so ensure you set yourself a couple of hours a day to study.

2. Timetable: Make yourself a work-study timetable as this will help you divide your tasks and get organised. The main thing is to ensure you manage your work hours with your university/study timetable. Doing some extra readings and research in your spare time will give you high distinctions!

3. Post-it notes and tabs are your best friend: Invest in quality post-it notes, tabs and highlighters! They will be your best friend. Especially for those who have open book exams (rare) or who just want to find information quickly. Just tab them all!

4. Take some time off: Working and studying is draining, so make sure you get some ‘me time’. Get a massage, a facial or even go to the gym (!) – it does wonders and gives you time to destress. Whenever I get stressed I go on small one-day or one-night road trips – it helps to restart my batteries and gives me the opportunity to get away with people I care about.

5. Don’t overload yourself: Be realistic about the time you need for study and work. If you work full-time, determine exactly how many classes and hours you are willing to sacrifice, as people tend to bite off more than they can chew. Working full time and studying really does have its challenges and expectations. So please keep in mind that you can only do what you are able to do.

6. Don’t be too hard on yourself: There is a lot of pressure when it comes to working and studying. Ensure that you are in a good headspace and get yourself motivated. Remember that all you need is perseverance and consistency is the key! Just keep going and I promise you will get that degree. If you need to have some time off then do it. There is no shame in deferring for a semester or even a year or two.

7. Sleep: The most important piece of advice is to not cut back on sleep. Not having enough sleep is detrimental to our health, it causes us to be lethargic, can be responsible for poor brain functioning and even weight gain! Make sure to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night to ensure you are rested for the next day.

Just keep pushing yourself and be consistent and I promise you will graduate in no time!

Previously on Nurse Uncut:


  1. What was your full time job? I couldn’t imagine trying to do a full time 9-5 M-F job with a nursing degree because it’d simply not be flexible enough.

    • I work as a fulltime nurse & work at a legal aid & in court. Honestly I have 5 jobs and still study fulltime after my nursing degree.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here