Amy Joshua is meticulous about lists. They anchor her packed workdays, school schedule, and family commitments. If a list was to summarize her life, it’d look a lot like this:
- Obtain an associate nursing degree
- Beat cervical cancer
- Move to Grand Forks and begin work at Altru Health System
- Enroll at UND’s RN to BSN program
Before embarking on a nursing career, Joshua, armed only with a high school diploma, found success in the insurance industry, which provided solid pay and regular work hours. However, when her duties were outsourced, she paused to consider her next step.
Joshua thought back to when she earned a nurse aide certificate and cared for people with mental disabilities in a group home. “I really enjoyed that job and thought that would be something I could do,” she says.
So, she took a chance on college. Two weeks before signing up for classes, though, Joshua received devastating news. She had cervical cancer, an ailment that took her mother in 2007, and later, a cousin.
“My driving force from here on has been to do the most I can do with my life while I am here,” Joshua says. She persisted and, three months after her diagnosis, Joshua underwent a surgery that ushered in her remission.
In the six years since, Joshua has obtained two associate degrees from Lake Region State College, and last August, joined Altru Health System in Grand Forks.
“With the associate RN degree, management jobs are hard to secure,” Joshua says. “You need your bachelor’s degree for most management jobs. That is why I took the extra step in getting my BSN, so that I can advance my career.”
As one might have guessed, Joshua already had a list of action steps:
- Earn an associate degree from Lake Region State, which partners with UND
- Enroll at UND’s online nursing completion program
- Resettle in Grand Forks with her fiancé and three sons
In spring 2019, after house hunting in the fall and establishing a new family routine, Joshua achieved an accomplishment she hopes to maintain—a semester of straight As. That milestone sparkles even brighter on the backdrop of her duties as a mom, nurse, and student.
Her days begin at dawn when she checks her to-do list as well as the whiteboard that holds every family member’s schedule. The boys have soccer, tennis, and baseball lessons. Her fiancé handles their home schooling, while she crams three 12-hour shifts at Altru into her week.
Starting at 7 a.m., Joshua is busy checking on patients, administering medication, delivering reports to physicians, fulfilling orders such as CT scans and dialysis, and helping colleagues. She’d love to pick up even more hours, but her team is understanding of her schoolwork.
“Right now, it is hard when you have a full-time class schedule,” she says. “Thursday, I usually hunker down and do a solid eight hours [of studying].”
That involves participating in online discussions with UND professors and peers. The curriculum also requires clinical hours, which Joshua fulfills with a project at Altru Safe Kids, an injury prevention initiative.
After earning her BSN degree, she’s already envisioning another goal—earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree to become a nurse anesthetist.
Learn more about Joshua and other Leaders in Action at UND.edu/leaders.