Nursing student discusses balancing act

May 22, 2012

Being a mom can be tough, regardless of whether you stay at home, work outside of the home or are pursuing a college degree. But a Wisconsin mother who works, is going to college to become a nurse and raising a family is proving that it can be done.

According to the Herald Times, 41-year-old Kelly Ness is currently going to school full time while working 30 hours per week as a nursing assistant. Like many busy working moms, she also has a 14-year-old daughter, a husband and a house and family to take care of. In addition, she volunteers 10 to 12 hours each month at a hospice in order to get experience and help her realize her ultimate goal of becoming a hospice nurse.

Ness, who wasn't able to go to college after she graduated from high school, told the newspaper that although balancing motherhood with school and the other responsibilities she has is a challenge, she knows that her hard work will pay off in the long run.

"Nursing has been a dream of mine since I've been a kid," she explained to the newspaper. "It's going to be so worth it. The sacrifices I'm making now, in the end there's going to be such a huge reward for me, I'm just ecstatic."

How does she do it? Ness says that she takes classes on Mondays and Wednesdays at the University of Wisconsin at Manitowoc as well as one online class.

"I try not to do any homework at night," she told the newspaper. "I've been trying to balance my life where I don't devote any of my time when [my daughter's] home to my schooling."
She works every other day of the week, beginning at 5 a.m.

Like many student parents, Ness has been able to structure her schedule to ensure she really can do it all. She also says that a supportive husband helps make it possible for her to juggle so many responsibilities at once.

She will likely be able to continue a good work-life balance when she graduates and becomes a nurse. This career, which has historically attracted a lot of women, often allows people to work part-time or on another flexible schedule.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2010, about 20 percent of registered nurses worked part-time.

In addition, the BLS reports that the median annual wage of registered nurses was $64,690 in May 2010. And, it's expected that demand for nurses remains high over the next decade. Between 2010 and 2020, the BLS envisions the demand for registered nurses to grow 26 percent, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Ness' story should serve as an inspiration for any other moms who are considering taking steps to pursue their dreams. They should also know that paying for college can be made easier through various grants for parents, scholarships for mothers and other financial aid.

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