All my life, it’s been important for me to be there for my family, friends and neighbors. My passion for helping others led me to a career in health care, and I proudly served as a nurse for 14 years in Dubuque.
After marrying my husband, Ben, in 2009, we started our family, and for the bulk of my nursing career, working in an emergency room offered great flexibility for our busy lives. Yet, as our family grew, I found myself facing what so many moms face: I didn’t want to miss family meals or school concerts.
When our youngest started kindergarten, I knew I was ready for a transition. I had loved the autonomy I had as an emergency room nurse, so becoming a nurse practitioner seemed like a great way to work in health care on my terms.
Setting my fears aside, I enrolled in Clarke University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program in fall 2021 and haven’t looked back. That isn’t to say that going back to school after 15 years didn’t come with hurdles. I had to learn how to study again, and the role of student has a different feel when you’re a mom to four little kids.
There were times I was overwhelmed, especially in my first semester, but I found support everywhere. From my classmates, professors and clinical instructors to my husband, parents and in-laws helping with the kids, I have so many people beside me in this and for that I am grateful.
My kids also have become some of my biggest cheerleaders. I think they find it novel that mom has a bookbag and goes to class just like them. They will sometimes come over to me while I’m working on course work and ask what different pictures are and what I’m studying. It’s fun to see them interested in what I’m learning, and I think it keeps them interested in school as well.
My 9-year-old recently said that she’s excited to attend my graduation, which is great motivation for the next 18 months of my program.
If I had to share some advice with other moms who have a dream — whether it’s rejoining the workforce or something just for them — I would say, do it. I am a wife and a mom, and I love those roles, but this is something for me, and I’m excited to see where it leads me.
Going back to school has pushed me so far out of my comfort zone that I sometimes wonder if I made the right decision, but when I think about the reasons I went back to school, my doubts dissolve. My goal in pursuing my degree was to change my career, but also to show my children that you can do anything.
Working hard and having a goal are powerful tools, and it is never too late to embark on a new journey. I hope those are lessons I can share with others in my future practice, too.
Angie Roling is a Doctor of Nursing Practice student at Clarke University in Dubuque.