Michigan Nursing Spotlight: Juggling Priorities, Continuing Education

The 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report titled Future of Nursing recommended that the U.S. “Increase the proportion of nurses with baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020”. Getting to the 80 percent proportion within 10 years is certainly a lofty goal given the financial, mental, and physical obstacles that continuing education can bring. Michigan, in particular, has had a difficult time finding a way to nurture talented nurses who have the drive and potential to advance their careers. However, nurses like Chris Hornburg, RN, are battling the barriers and taking steps to advance from RN to BSN against all odds.

For Hornburg, an Adjunct Instructor at Lansing Community College, juggling priorities has become a way of life. As a wife, daughter, mother of three, Certified Nursing Aide and PCT course instructor, puppy owner, marathoner, and now student, Hornburg is constantly pushing the limits of what can be accomplished in a single day. “I find what works for me is trying to develop a routine and then sticking to it”, says Hornburg, “I tell my students to plan their work, then work their plan.”

Nurses are known multi-taskers; the job itself requires time management, team coordination, personalized care, and long hours on your feet. But for many nurses, adding classes into the daily mix can simply be too much. Going back to school has been on Hornburg’s “bucket list” for a while, and she’s found that motivation and support are key. “If you want to be considered for almost any position, a bachelor’s degree is now required…So with the encouragement of friends and my boss, I am going back.”

Hornburg’s colleagues and supervisors at Lansing Community College have been essential to the entire process. Her boss, Sioux Cowper, RN, BSN, has even taken it upon herself to be an “accountability partner”. Hornburg says “Sioux asks me questions like, ‘what have you signed up for?’, ‘when is your appointment with your advisor?’ and tells me who she had for math, how to look up instructors, etc.”

The transfer process from Lansing Community College to Ferris State University has been easier than expected so far, thanks to the schools’ current partnership. “The University Center is right across the street from where I work, and everyone has been so helpful” says Hornburg. She begins classes soon and estimates that she’ll have her BSN degree in the next 2-3 years despite her many obligations.

“I also feel it is extremely important to share your dreams with your family, they’re more likely to help than hinder you”, says Hornburg. Her oldest son, Charles Hornburg, seems to agree, commenting “I’m just really proud and happy to see that she’s not getting in the way of herself when striving for her goals.” Charles, who is currently a full-time student and full-time employee of Michigan State University, credits his parents for his ability to multitask.

“I believe this will give me a sense of accomplishment and also give me the potential to do whatever I may want to do in the future” says Hornburg. She is already making plans for after she receives her BSN, “I think I will continue to take classes, oh, and I’m planning on running a 50K in September!”

Michigan nurses like Chris Hornburg are leading the charge in advancing nursing and fulfilling the IOM recommendations one hectic day at a time. If you know an exemplary nurse, send your nominations to Ana Walker at ana.walker@mhc.org and your story may be featured in next month’s Michigan Nursing Spotlight.

The Michigan Center for Nursing is a service of the Michigan Health Council, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to creating a culture of health with health professionals at the heart of the delivery system. Learn more at mhc.org.