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Jobs Nursing Students Can Work While in School

Gayle Morris, BSN, MSN
by
Updated May 25, 2023
    These side gigs can help nurses earn extra money and gain experience in their field.
    Credit: Thurtell / Getty Images
    • Nursing school can be costly, stressful, and time-consuming, meaning students need the right part-time job to help pay the bills and get industry experience.
    • Easy jobs while in nursing school should be flexible, low stress, and ideally have understanding managers.
    • These seven jobs for nursing students can help nursing candidates gain experience while in school.

    Let’s face it — nursing school is expensive and takes up a lot of time. Nursing students looking for jobs need a position that pays but also fits their schedule.

    Nursing students must juggle studying, classes, exams, and clinicals, making it difficult to find the right job. Dive in and explore some jobs students can work while in nursing school.

    What to Look for in a Job for Nursing Students

    Nursing is a lifelong learning experience. So, nursing students can benefit greatly by taking on a part-time job. This helps them pay for school and gives them the experience and skills necessary to start their new career.

    There are several qualities to look for in a job as a nursing student:

    • Low-stress working environment
    • Scheduling flexibility
    • Understanding management

    Your side job should be low stress since your nursing program is likely already causing you some anxiety and stress. Because your schedule usually changes each semester, having a flexible schedule and a manager who understands your school obligations is helpful.

    A job that supports your clinical skills increases your experience and can boost your confidence — helping to make you more marketable after graduation.

    Another benefit of working part time in the healthcare industry is that your employer may provide tuition reimbursement for nursing degrees. Just be aware of your obligations after graduation, as employers may expect you to work there for a specific number of years.

    New Initiative to Earn While You Learn

    As the nursing shortage reached critical mass in early 2020, hospitals and nursing programs, especially in rural areas, began working to expand the nurse workforce. One result was an increase in “Earn While You Learn” programs.

    While program specifics vary by state, the general concept involves helping LPN, ADN, and BSN students find and keep work more easily while school is in session, offsetting costs and even guaranteeing employment after graduation. Clinical experiences that nursing students complete during that time also could help improve their practical knowledge.

    In Virginia, an Earn While You Learn partnership between Mary Washington Healthcare and Germanna Community College saw 30 nursing students work 12-20 hours per week as nursing assistants.

    During their third semester, the students entered more targeted clinical pathways and completed 36 clinical hours of experience. Program developers hoped the student nurses would ultimately choose to continue working with the hospital after graduation.

    7 Jobs Nursing Students Can Work While in School

    As you’re searching for a part-time job during your nursing program that meets your needs, consider the following seven jobs for nursing students.

    1 | Nursing Companion

    Most seniors prefer to live at home. Yet, even when they are physically independent, families may find their loved one needs emotional companionship. Nursing companions are primarily an emotional support system, providing non-medical, in-home care services to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities.

    While certified home health aides typically perform hands-on care, companion caregivers provide an individual with companionship. The job requires a person with a big heart and the ability to provide emotional support. Most companies want companions to know cardiopulmonary resuscitation, basic first aid, and emergency care, but no degree/certification is required.

    2 | Medical Interpreter or Translator

    Nursing students who are fluent in a second language can consider working within a healthcare organization as a medical interpreter. Medical interpreters and translators help doctors and nurses communicate with patients who don’t speak English. A medical translator also converts medical records for travelers or translates pharmaceutical materials.

    Medical interpreters work in healthcare facilities or over video calls, while translators can work at home. Nursing candidates considering medical translation work can sign up with an agency so they don’t spend time searching for new clients.

    3 | Phlebotomist

    A phlebotomist works in a healthcare institution or laboratory to collect patients’ blood samples. Nursing students can practice basic skills and interact with patients in this position. Although it’s not the same as starting an intravenous line (IV), learning how to draw blood makes starting IVs a lot easier.

    As a phlebotomist, nursing candidates also learn how to calm patients before a procedure and have the added advantage of working in the healthcare system.

    4 | Emergency Medical Technician

    Before attending nursing school, some nursing candidates first become emergency medical technicians (EMTs). The EMT course is a minimum of 170 hours. Candidates learn to assess patients and administer some treatments. Eligibility requirements vary, but enrolling in an EMT course does not require previous medical experience.

    The schedule is flexible, which can help accommodate your nursing school requirements. Your EMT experience teaches you to be adaptable and calm in a crisis and builds your confidence.

    5 | Telemetry Monitor Technician

    Technicians must have a high school diploma and go through some training with the telemetry unit. The job entails watching cardiac monitors and reporting to the nurse when a patient shows an abnormal heart rhythm. This is a good opportunity for nurses who want to work in an intensive care unit. However, it does require sitting in front of a screen during your shift, which can be tedious.

    6 | Nursing Assistant

    Nursing assistants bathe, feed, and dress patients. They help nurses by taking vital signs and assisting patients with their activities of daily living. Nursing assistants listen to patients and communicate any important information regarding their care to their supervising nurse. This job gives nursing students first-hand experience in taking care of patients. While it is hard work, it can give you greater confidence as you learn directly applicable skills to help you in nursing school and your career.

    7 | Hospital Clerk

    Hospital clerks typically sit at the nurses’ station and help doctors input orders into the electronic health record, respond to patients’ questions, answer the unit telephones, and provide other administrative duties. It is often low stress, and the manager is typically very familiar with the challenges of nursing school.

    The position also allows you to work within the healthcare system and learn behind-the-scenes activities that make a unit run smoothly.

    Balancing School and Work

    Working a part-time job while in nursing school is a balancing act. While income may be necessary, maintaining your mental health is critical. Remember, good mental health doesn’t just happen. It requires your care and attention like your physical health requires adequate sleep, good nutrition, and exercise.

    It’s easy to get bogged down in daily life stressors, which can lead to nursing students dropping out. Long-term exposure to stress can also weaken your immune system and make you prone to physical health problems. Remember that self-care is not selfish! As you seek a balance between school and work, it’s vital you don’t overdo it and always make your mental health a priority.