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Balancing Job, Family, and Grad School: 5 Principles for Christian Nurses

Balancing Job, Family, and Grad School: 5 Principles for Christian Nurses

Nurse practitioner standing in front of patient“How do you do it?”

That was usually the question that people asked after they discovered that I was enrolled full time as a graduate student in the dual-track Nurse Educator and Family Nurse Practitioner focus areas in the M.S.N. program at Cedarville University. As a wife, mom of three under 12, contingent nurse at an inpatient hospital unit, adjunct clinical professor, and active member of the church, I understood why they were asking. When I felt the Lord calling me to pursue a degree as a nurse educator and family nurse practitioner, I entered with prayerful fear and trembling. Hanging over my computer — where I spent countless hours (many during a pandemic and many during long nights) — were the following 5 guiding principles that helped me balance my job, family, and graduate school.

#1 Keep Jesus First – Don’t worship knowledge; don’t worship power; don’t worship money. Prioritize time with God in prayer; prioritize your marriage; prioritize teaching your children; prioritize the church.

These principles have guided my choices about where to spend my time and guided my intellectual pursuit. The struggle about where to invest my time has not always been easy. Some days it is hard to choose to set all of the assignments aside and really engage with your spouse and children. The need to trust and let God work out all of the details, even guiding your reading and study, is part of walking in faith. I have had to let go of some responsibilities and pass the baton to others. I have had to lean on my support systems and trust that the gaps I can’t fill right now will be OK. I have to remind myself often of my “Whys” for this journey.

#2 Stay Humble – Be willing to get your hands dirty. Do you want to do the work?

Early in my graduate school journey, I was challenged by an African doctor who asked if there were those willing to not just show up for a job or work so they could get paid, but he asked, “Do you want to come to work or do you want to do THE work?” I determined early on to do THE work. I have interacted sincerely with every patient. I have practiced assessments and honed diagnostic skills. I have poured myself into educating students and improving their experience. I have done this because I sensed God’s call to work at what I am doing with all of my heart. I have pursued excellence because I believe this is His work.

#3 Trust God for Manna – He will provide.

The School of Nursing at Cedarville challenges every entering graduate student to remember how God provided for the children of Israel in the Old Testament. Grad school has a lot of moving parts and pieces and has required leaning into God’s provision. This also meant being very proactive about the program requirements. I worked a year in advance to secure some clinical placements and I prayed and persisted when some of them fell through. I can say with confidence that He has led me to ALL the right places.

#4 Let Yourself Go Through the Change – Evaluate during the process. Use metacognition.

Reflecting on HOW I was studying and what was effective and ineffective became a key piece to navigating the content. After each exam especially, I worked through what went well and what I would change to better study the content. I tried to plan several weeks at a time to allow myself time to study and engage with the material. Graduate school became my full-time job. All of my "paid" jobs (nurse at a hospital and clinical adjunct) became secondary. I adjusted my job and work to becoming a nurse practitioner and nurse educator; I did not try to fit it into my current role as an RN. Many times, as I sensed myself changing and being stretched. I reminded myself, “It’s OK; this is what it is supposed to feel like when you become something or someone new.”

#5 Keep Going – You can do this. YOU WILL PASS.

I committed early in the process that I would not give up. I believed in myself, and with God's help, I knew I could finish well.

I don’t know if there is how-to guide for every Christian nurse trying to balance a job, family, and graduate school. Each person has unique challenges to overcome and victories to celebrate. The 5 principles above, however, are rooted in Scripture and well-researched. They are a good place to start.

By Miriam Roggio (Miriam Roggio is a 2022 graduate of Cedarville University’s Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Educator programs.)

The Master of Science in Nursing program at Cedarville University School of Nursing is equipping advanced practice nurses with the training and skills needed to succeed wherever God leads them. Choose from focus areas in Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, and Nursing Leadership in Healthcare Improvement. An M.S.N.+M.B.A. Dual Degree is also available.


Posted in MSN

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