When Tina Mekuria was on medical leave in 2016, her husband Birhan convinced her it was the perfect time to focus on school during her recovery. Birhan had recently enrolled in Chamberlain University’s RN to BSN Online Degree Completion Option based on recommendations from his co-workers and encouraged Tina to join him.
“We thought it would be beneficial to be able to study together and support each other on this journey,” Tina said. “We both knew that we wanted to advance our careers in nursing and that Chamberlain would help guide us on the right path.”
Flexibility While Working and Raising a Family
At the time, Tina and Birhan were registered nurses in a behavioral health unit. They both considered pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to take the next step in the nursing profession. But with three kids—son Kedus (now age 13) and twins Leyat and Kaleab (now age 8)—the couple needed a flexible, online option that allowed them to both work and raise a family.
“We liked the flexibility of Chamberlain’s RN to BSN option and the ability to work on our courses at home every minute possible in between the rest of our chaotic lives,” Tina said. “Being able to decide how many credit hours we were going to take each semester took the stress off us. We were able to take as many or as little credits necessary to fit our current life situation.”
Going Back to School After 25 Years
After some 25 years in the workforce, it was admittedly a challenge for the couple to adjust to being back in school—including getting up-to-speed with their technology knowledge, having to research and write papers, and acclimating to an online class environment. But they were able to persevere as a couple and with support from their family.
“Together we encouraged each other,” Birhan said. “Most of the time, each of us had something different to offer the other to help get us through the rough spots. We relied a lot on our friends and family to help with our children and our household duties so we could focus on school.”
Lean on Others for Support
The couple also points to the support they received from Chamberlain’s Student Services, faculty and fellow students as being instrumental in their successful completion of the RN to BSN option in September 2018.
”We were so blessed and thankful that we had a student support advisor guiding us each semester on which classes needed to be completed first or which classes worked best together,” Tina said. “Plus we really enjoyed the relationships we formed with our very kind professors and peers in the classes, and welcomed the feedback and support from each of them.”
Additionally, Tina and Birhan took full advantage of the support resources available to all Chamberlain students—from tutoring services to help them navigate through their tougher courses to 24/7 access to the Chamberlain Library for online course guides and research resources.
Organization Is the Key to Success
With their hectic schedules, the couple stayed on top of things by keeping every aspect of their lives organized on one calendar for the whole family to look at each day—from work and kids’ schedules to homework and project due dates. They printed out all reading materials and project rubrics for the entire course at the very beginning of each session, paper-clipped each week together, and highlighted important dates to keep them in line.
“It was extremely helpful to buy a hard copy of each textbook and read all assigned work,” Tina said. “Having these always at hand and being able to mark them up as needed kept our information readily available.”
Advancing Their Education as Extraordinary Nurses
After graduating from Chamberlain, Tina and Birhan continue to work as registered nurses at mid-Michigan’s largest health system. Both agree that earning BSN degrees helped advance their skills and nursing practice.
“This degree has helped me to become more knowledgeable and a better resource for my patients and co-workers,” Birhan said. “It has made me feel more confident in my caregiver role. It has allowed me to be more proficient and focused on evidence-based practice. And it has taught me how to be a stronger advocate for change.”
Celebrating Their Success Together
Although having both parents in school simultaneously was hard on the kids at times, it was easy for the couple to remind them that this was short term with long-term benefits. It also served as a great example of the importance of higher education and learning for their kids. To celebrate their graduation, Tina and Birhan took the family on a special vacation since their success was truly a team effort.
When asked about what she would tell those considering going back to school for their BSN, Tina enthusiastically responded: “Do it! It is hard and it is challenging. But really it is over before you know it and extremely worth it. Those three letters, BSN, are quite an accomplishment that we are very proud of.”
Interested in learning more about how you can pursue a BSN with your busy lifestyle? Explore Chamberlain’s RN to BSN Online Degree Completion Option or request more information here.
By Agnes Hicks
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