Deciding on a career change is always a difficult decision, especially when you are a parent. After all, you don’t only have yourself to consider, as you must ensure you can emotionally and financially support your little one. That doesn’t mean it isn’t doable, though – as long as you follow these eleven tips.
1. Choose Distance Learning
The internet has provided students with plenty of benefits, including the ability to learn from home. Rather than having to go to a university each day, you can do the majority of your studies from your computer, allowing you to spend more time with your kids. You will, of course, still need to be present at your clinical work experience, but you’ll still save on traveling to and from classes.
Ideally, you would want to be qualified as quickly as possible, and that means choosing a full-time program. However, if you want to study nursing, you can become a nurse in sixteen months with accelerated nursing programs online, as long as you put in the required hours.
2. Create a Support Network
You won’t always be able to look after your kid when you’re studying for your healthcare degree. During those times, a support network will be a lifeline. By having friends, family, and neighbors who are on your side and willing to provide an extra hand when needed, you’ll find starting your new healthcare career much easier. Just remember to find thoughtful ways to say thanks!
3. Consider Career Options
The healthcare field is full of many different paths, so consider your options carefully before jumping into a decision. What skills do you already have? What healthcare career can you picture yourself in? You should consider how long it’ll take to get there, too. For example, if your dream is to become a surgeon, then you must accept that it will take around seven years to get there. Other careers, like registered nursing, don’t take quite so long.
4. Stick to a Schedule
Time management is a must for any healthcare student who is also a parent. After all, you need to fit in time spent with your kids, time spent studying, and time spent doing work experience. Plus, you might even have a day job to fit into all of that, too! By creating a schedule at the beginning of each week and sticking to it, you ensure nothing gets pushed to the side.
5. Make Student Friends
It’s hard to become a healthcare professional alone. So, when you start your degree, try to introduce yourself to as many students as possible. That way, you’ll have friends to ask for help from, form study groups with, and to help motivate you when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Bonus points if any of your healthcare student friends also have children! The bigger the team behind you, the better.
6. Think About Your Finances
Before jumping careers, think about how it will affect your finances. You’ve got more than yourself to look after, so you must ensure you still have enough money coming in each month to support the family. If you have a partner who can support you during this time, then great, but if not, you’ll need to consider keeping a job while studying for your healthcare degree. In this situation, you might consider going part-time, either for your degree or your current job.
7. Learn How to Prioritize
Unfortunately, there will be times when you will have to prioritize one task over another. For example, your current job might call you into work, but you have an exam coming up, and you must decide which one takes a priority. It’s never easy but learning how to prioritize your time will come in handy here.
8. Study Whenever You Can
As a parent, you will find fewer hours to study than the average student, which means you must squeeze in as much study time wherever and whenever you can. If that means studying on the bus, then so be it! You can study anywhere – the dining table, on your break at work, on a train, while sitting with your little one in the evenings.
To make studying easier on yourself, consider making easy-to-read notes to refresh your memory no matter where you are. That way, you don’t have to carry heavy textbooks with you to do a bit of studying.
9. Keep a Good Relationship with Your Professor
When times get tough, your professor will be there to guide you. For example, maybe you need a bit of extra time on a project because your kid is sick, or you can’t make a class because your little one is putting on a school show. By keeping up to date with your professor, they will be more understanding when you have other obligations that get in the way of your studies. If you don’t let them in on your life, they won’t be able to help you.
10. Use Your Parenting Skills in Your New Career
A lot of parenting skills and healthcare skills overlap, such as patience and time management. To help you thrive in both your healthcare degree and career, use these parenting skills that now come naturally to you.
11. Be Absolutely Sure of Your Path
When it comes to taking on a challenge, such as starting a healthcare career as a parent, you must have tons of passion to push you through. Without it, your motivation will fade before long, and you’ll find you’ve spent your precious time and money on something you’re not going to complete. So, before applying to that nursing school or bachelor’s degree in public health, make sure you are sure of your path.
No matter what healthcare career you are switching to, the road ahead is going to be a challenge. By having loved ones behind you, prioritizing tasks, and staying motivated, though, you are sure to come out the other end in the healthcare career of your dreams.