Frances Brogan loves working in nursing. She knew she wanted to stay in the industry, but was keen to progress her career – and move away from shiftwork so she could spend more time with her family. Online study with Charles Sturt University (CSU) meant she could gain a Master of Nursing to help her achieve her goals.
Making the decision to do a master’s degree
Deciding to return to uni to pursue postgraduate study was not a spur of the moment decision for Frances. But when a change in circumstances arose, she knew she couldn’t wait for a ‘perfect’ time to start.
“I’d been thinking about postgraduate online study for a few years before I began, but I’d never felt really ready. When I started at CSU, I was working as a clinical nurse specialist in an emergency department, where I had been for 16 years. I had four children (I still have them!) The eldest was 13 and the youngest was five.
“I was intending to wait until my youngest started school, but I jumped into the course six months earlier than planned because a role at work was coming up that I really wanted to have the opportunity to go for, and I knew postgraduate study would help me do well in it. So in six weeks I applied for uni, got into uni, applied for scholarships, interviewed for a new job and started a new job!”
Choosing CSU for online study
Frances’ choice of university had been some time in the making too.
“I knew I wanted to do a Master of Nursing, and I had done a lot of research about universities in the previous few years. I kept coming back to CSU, because of the subjects on offer. They had the best choice of subjects for the path I wanted to take my career on.
“The other major factor in my decision was that I could do the whole degree online. As a working mum, I couldn’t make a commitment to face-to-face learning, and CSU had the best platform for online study.
“It had been 20 years since my undergraduate degree, so I was nervous about going back, and I wasn’t quite convinced I could actually do it. But I did a lot of ALLaN [Academic Literacy, Learning and Numeracy] study skills workshops that CSU supplied to help prepare myself. Study has changed over 20 years, and I had changed a lot during that time. It was such a different experience as I was such a different student.”
How to balance life and study
With a new job, a family and study, Frances had a lot on and needed to find here work-life balance. Her husband and children were key to her success.
“We coped with the pressure as a family. I always say, this is not my degree, it’s the family’s degree. Everyone had to make sacrifices to enable me to do it. My husband would take the kids out to give me time to do an assignment, and my kids accepted that I needed that space.
“I really feel that the kids gained from it, by seeing their mum put in the hard work and reap the benefits; particularly for my three girls, so they could see that women can study and work and achieve. And they now get to benefit as I’ve been able to shift my career so I’m not on shiftwork and I’m not working nights. I am able to spend more time with them now.”
How a master’s can help your career
Frances certainly feels that studying a master’s degree has advanced her career – and will do so in the future as well. But that’s far from the only benefit.
“Before I got to my last subject, I realised I had enough to graduate with a Distinction. That was great as it confirmed that not only could I do this, I could do it really well. I also received a Dean’s Academic Award.
“The role I started at the same time as my postgraduate study was as a nurse educator, a direction I wanted to take my career in. Since then I’ve moved into a nursing research intern position. That’s a role I would never have thought of looking at before I did my postgraduate degree. I’ve found there are so many more pathways that I am interested in and that I feel I can pursue in my career.
“I see the world differently now. It was great with online study as we had students not only from metropolitan areas like me, but also rural areas and from many different countries, so I really felt I was exposed to views and knowledge from across a wide range of experience.
“And the degree has paid so many dividends for my family in that we can spend more time together now my working life is better. It was a challenging three years but the gains have been so great.”
Listen to more of Frances’s story
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