Juggling a full-time job, working from home and caring for children can be challenging, especially when you are a nursing student during the coronavirus pandemic!
Shawquila Mintz is a full-time student at Herzing’s Kenosha campus and is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). In addition to nursing school, she works from home full time and takes care of her two children while her husband recovers from knee surgery. While times have been challenging, Shawquila explains how she took charge of her life and manages to stay on top of it all. Below, she shares her story and some advice for students who might be in a similar situation.
1. Why did you decide to earn your nursing degree?
I have always been determined to help others. I knew that becoming a nurse would offer me an opportunity to do this because I could help individuals get and stay healthy. I also knew that I needed to do something in my career that would challenge me and keep me curious while making a difference in people’s lives. I learned that within nursing there are numerous perspectives in patient care and a variety of specializations and that my schedule would be different every day because each patient is unique.
The fact that nursing is also an in-demand career spurred me to get started. With the coronavirus, I felt like it was either now or never to take the leap and start my career.
2. How do you balance all your responsibilities?
I incorporate a lot of technology to get through my daily life. I own an Echo Dot that allows me to set my daily routines and alarms so I can stay on top of things. When I need to start work or the kids need to begin e-learning, Alexa reminds me. She’s like our family assistant, and she really helps to remind me what and when things need to get done.
I also purchased a whiteboard sticker from Amazon that covers one side of my wall. I use this whiteboard to write down and keep up with my kids’ assignments and my own! I can also use my giant wall calendar to stay updated on upcoming appointments, errands and assignments. Every household is different, so it’s all about finding your household flow and knowing what tools and strategies work best for you.
You also need to make time for yourself! I avoid burnout by making it a priority to schedule “me” time. Even if it’s a nice warm bath without interruptions, reading a book or taking a walk, “me” time is mandatory. I also try to maintain my social health by staying in touch with my loved ones, joining groups, planning nights and asking for help when I really need it.
3. How has the pandemic changed the way you balance your responsibilities?
It was really frustrating at first. I had worked so hard to get my children into a routine for school, but eventually, as the pandemic crept into our lives, that slowly began to unravel. That well thought out schedule turned into everyone just moving in their own direction, on their own time and at their own speed. I had to reevaluate everything in my household. It was a tough start, but I slowly began to find something that works for my family and me.
For example, my kids are scheduled for lunch with their school at 12 p.m. I try to pre-pack their lunch every morning and even though the day may bring about a lot of changes, I always know that their lunch will be ready at 12 p.m. I also like to get everyone involved in the daily schedule and responsibilities. My daughter is still young, but she loves washing the dishes while my son enjoys taking the dog out to play. Although my husband is recovering, he does what he can to help out.
Getting things done is all about delegating tasks, building on your strengths and prioritizing assignments. This is something that I’ve learned in nursing school that can be applied in my daily life as well.
4. What is the hardest part about working full time, your kid’s virtual learning and earning your nursing degree?
The hardest part is staying confident. I admit, there are some days that I feel I’m losing grip of everything all at once. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was getting behind on my workload, not getting enough study time and even forgetting some of my kid's workbooks. However, I gave myself a moment to catch my breath and told myself, “I can do it!” I’ve realized that I need to take everything one day at a time. What is important is not staying on top of everything, but rather doing my best every day.
I also struggle with remembering that I’m not alone. I am very independent, but I’ve learned that it is okay to ask for help. Herzing University has been so supportive and understanding it’s unbelievable. I’m pleased to be a part of the family.
5. What advice do you have for nursing students or someone looking to earn their nursing degree?
I remember taking my time to get my nursing degree because I had some fears and uncertainty. What if I don’t do well in my course? I was worried that I wouldn’t understand all the information taught in nursing school. I was also worried that I wouldn’t have a life outside of school because I would be so overwhelmed.
If you’re like I was, procrastinating out of fear, I want to say don’t listen to those negative thoughts. Not only is it possible, but it is manageable with a little bit of confidence and a lot of hard work. I was once told that “the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Go for it!
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.