Attending Nursing School as a Single or Working Parent

Submitted by Andrew Steger on Mon, 12/06/2021 - 12:02
A mom who is in nursing school with her daughter in bed

Being a single or working parent isn’t easy. While single parents have incredible strength and rewarding lives, it can be difficult to balance career and family goals at the same time. This is especially true for single parents with younger children needing child care. With busy schedules and the full-time role of parenting, finding time to pursue a new profession can seem virtually impossible.

Fortunately, there are ways around this issue that can help busy parents have it all.

With the rise of distance learning and online courses, finishing your bachelor’s degree has never been easier. Nursing programs, in particular, have become increasingly accessible for people looking to earn their degrees through online programs.

If you want to learn more about this exciting path and online Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) programs, read on for everything you need to know about the best single parent nursing programs.



Why Nursing is a Good Career Choice for Single Parents

The medical field is changing for the better. With nurses gaining more autonomy and recognition in healthcare, it’s no surprise that more and more people are moving toward this career path.

Becoming a registered nurse is also an excellent job for single parents, due to a number of reasons:

  • Job outlook – First and foremost, the job outlook for nurses is quite promising. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 7% job growth throughout the next decade—a much faster rate than the average job outlook in the United States.

  • High starting salaries – Secondly, nurses earn high starting salaries with plenty of room for advancement. The BLS reports a median annual salary of $75,330 for registered nurses (RNs) in the United States. This comes out to approximately $36.22 per hour, which is well above the federal minimum wage and also above the median household income of $67,521 in 2020. Single parents typically need a reliable source of income, in order to provide for themselves and their children. With a career in nursing, you’ll have plenty of employment options and a stable salary to rely on.

  • Qualities of a good nurse – Nursing also requires a certain level of care and empathy: two categories that may come naturally to a parent taking care of children on their own.

Finally, one of the biggest reasons many single parents pursue careers in nursing is because of the accessible programs available. Online nursing programs make it easy to earn your bachelor’s degree and become trained in a promising field. To get a better idea of how this process works and how long it takes to get a nursing degree, let’s take a look at the specifics of online nursing education.

The Benefits of Online Nursing Programs

When you have children to care for, it can be difficult to enroll in traditional college courses. For an educational path that requires less in-person commitment, online nursing programs are a great option for single and working parents.

Just a few of the biggest benefits of online nursing programs include:

Virtual Courses

Perhaps the biggest draw of distance education is the opportunity to attend courses virtually. When you sign up for an online nursing program, you can expect a majority—if not all—of your courses to be accessible from home.

This can be helpful for single parents who may have time to attend classes and complete coursework, but not the flexibility to actually leave the house for school. Given that bachelor’s programs often come with a heavy course load and daytime classes, the traditional college approach isn’t always feasible for parents.

This is especially true for people with children too young to attend school. Childcare can be expensive, and single parents who are currently transitioning careers can rest easy knowing that their nursing courses won’t require them to separate from their children; however, they still may require some form of in-home care to maintain the levels of attention required from such classes.

Flexible Scheduling

In a similar vein, online nursing programs can also offer greater flexibility in terms of scheduling. This is because virtual courses often have asynchronous sessions that don’t require specific log-in times, and some live sessions are even recorded and can viewed later by nursing students with irregular or busy schedules.

Certain online nursing programs may also give every nursing student the option to attend either full-time or part-time. Of course, this will vary from school to school, and accelerated second degree nursing programs are typically full time plans of study.

Generally speaking, the courses available through an online nursing program are going to give single parents far more space in their schedules. This flexibility can be used to spend time with their children while also attending school.

Local Clinical Hours

While virtual coursework will be easier on single parents, the clinical practice hours required for a nursing degree can be challenging due their in-person requirement for labs and clinical times. Fortunately, many online nursing programs offer advisors and placement services to make this process easier.

Online nursing students can get assistance sourcing their clinical hours, in order to find local healthcare facilities and times that work best for their busy schedules.

When you enroll in an online nursing program, the time requirements for clinical hours can sometimes be more flexible than the rigid structure of a traditional university; however, most will still require 8 or 12 hour days to be completed any day of the week.

Education Options

Prospective nurses looking to earn their bachelor’s degree have two main options for online programs: a BSN and an ABSN. Let’s take a look at what each of these programs entail:

  • Online BSN – A Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a common undergraduate student program for first-time college students. These college degree programs are designed for prospective nurses who have not completed any other undergraduate degrees—both nursing and non-nursing. An online BSN will typically take approximately four years to complete, but some schools offer part-time options that can last longer. With a BSN, graduates can go on to take the NCLEX-RN and once they have successfully passed, obtain a registered nurse license to begin their career in healthcare.

  • Online ABSN – For graduates who have previously completed a non-nursing bachelor’s program, an accelerated Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (ABSN) is going to be the best higher education option. ABSN programs are designed to bridge the gap between other degrees and help students complete their nursing education more efficiently (often within 1-2 years). An ABSN program will typically require a full time commitment, but online courses and limited in-person responsibilities will make this process easier for any single parent student.3

A direct-entry masters is also an option for career changers who already hold a bachelors degree and want to pivot to the nursing profession. This graduate entry option allows students to meet the requirements for the NCLEX-RN (the licensing exam required to be an RN) while positioning graduates of these programs to be champions of quality and safety initiatives once they are out practicing as an RN.

Can I Really Go to Nursing School with Little Ones?

When you choose an online nursing program, the answer is yes. Online ABSN and BSN programs are designed to help busy adults change careers without sacrificing the most important job of all: being a parent.

Every online nursing program is going to offer different benefits. While some may have a heavier course load and a faster graduation rate, others provide part-time options for students who want flexibility in their schedule.

No matter what you’re looking for, there are plenty of options when it comes to accessible online nursing programs. All you have to do is find the one that works for you.

Start the journey today, and begin earning your nursing degree through an online ABSN program. To help you find your perfect fit, we’ve compiled a list of high-quality, accredited online ABSN programs. Simply enter your Zip code below to find which program(s) are available in your area.

The content published on our blog is reviewed by credentialed healthcare professionals to give you the most up-to-date and professionally accurate information. This particular article was professionally reviewed by Colleen Sanders, RN, FNP-BC on December 5, 2021.