Maintaining Balance While Pursuing a Master’s in Nursing

Students earning their Master of Science degree in Nursing typically juggle many different responsibilities. We spoke with several current students and recent graduates to learn more about their motivations for working towards a Master’s in Nursing and how they balance their busy schedules.

Why Earn a Master’s in Nursing?

Courtney Brinkman (G’13)

Students have many different reasons for pursuing a Master’s Degree in Nursing. Alumna Courtney Brinkman (G’13), M.S., R.N., FNP-BC, of Michigan, draws inspiration from a nurse practitioner whom she says “truly opened my eyes to what nurses and health care providers can do for a person — keep them healthy holistically. This experience, combined with my passion for education and empowering patients, has led me down this path.” 

Some students pursue nursing as a second career after working in other areas of health care. “I have a Master’s Degree in Counseling, and while I enjoyed working in mental health, I really wanted a more balanced understanding of health care,” says Tricia Bursnall (G’14) of Colorado. “Nursing seemed like the perfect blend of technical expertise and holistic human care.”

How to Maintain Work-Life Balance?

Juggling long shifts, family obligations, and schoolwork can be challenging. For some students, balance involves creating boundaries between home, school, and work. “I have learned to squeeze the most out of every day, but I also take time to enjoy my family in the time that I spend with them and leave my school worries on the back burner,” says Courtney Brinkman (G’13), M.S., R.N., FNP-BC, of Michigan. “Being able to compartmentalize all the facets of my life has definitely helped me avoid being overwhelmed.”

Elizabeth Huenefeldt (G’14)

Carving out personal time helps many nursing students stay sane. “I make sure to take time for myself by exercising or just going to a restaurant or coffee shop and just enjoying ‘me time,’” says Elizabeth Huenefeldt (G’14) of Illinois. “I keep my limitations in mind and try not to push myself so hard that I burn out.”

Like Huenefeldt, Joseph Rawls, (G’14) of Florida, values the importance of exercise, even in a hectic schedule. “You must make the time because it is essential to stay sane and healthy,” he says. “I vacation every break between terms: I take my tent, girls, tunes, and dog to the beach where we can hit the reset button for a week.”

Amanda Boys (G’14), of Indiana, used to feel guilty when her studying interfered with family, but now she’s found a creative way to make time for both. “I have learned that my daughter loves to help me study, and that if I make flash cards, she will quiz me all night if I let her,” Boys says. “I try to save my reading for night time; my son will snuggle up next to me and that is our quiet time together.”


Joy Scott (G’14), of Washington sums up the challenges that many of her classmates face in squeezing everything in. “As nurses, we often forget to take care of ourselves,” she says, “but it is important for your physical and mental health to give yourself time each day to pray, exercise, meditate, or just breathe.” Juggling different obligations is not easy, but achieving balance is possible, and the effort and focus required of a rigorous program prepares nursing students for the next stage of their careers.