Yorkton nursing student Veronica Chase with her son Jackson and spouse Dominick. (Photo: Submitted)

Becoming a mom while completing a nursing degree

“The nursing program is difficult on its own, let alone becoming a first-time mother in the middle of it.”

For Veronica Chase, that has been the challenge she has faced head-on for the past four years.

Chase grew up in a house where her mom was a nurse and her dad was a physician. Working previously in the hospitality industry, she loved making a difference for people and taking care of them. That’s when she decided she wanted to become a nurse.

“Helping people has always been important to me,” said Chase. “I knew I wanted to go to nursing school, but I was too reluctant to register. Thank goodness my friends decided to apply for me and help me through the registration process, or my university journey would have never begun.”

Chase has just completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree through the University of Saskatchewan (USask) nursing program at Parkland College in Yorkton.

During the pre-professional year of university, she found out she was expecting. Her little boy Jackson was born during her first year in the nursing program.

“The nursing program is a challenging one, so I wasn’t sure how everything would turn out,” said Chase. “I had a lot of breakdowns, stress, and exhaustion in school before I had a baby. It was heavily exacerbated having a newborn who was colicky and thought sleep was unnecessary.”

Chase credits the smaller class sizes in Yorkton and her understanding instructors for her ability to complete the nursing program, while becoming a first-time mom.

“It was because of my supportive classmates and instructors that I was able to finish my degree,” she said. “Jackson was sick a lot and it made for some long nights, but my classmates were always willing to work around my schedule. I remember one night, a classmate came over to study and my son had been crying and unwilling to sleep. I was exhausted, so my classmate held him for the majority of our study session. My instructors were also very understanding and as long as I was transparent about missing class, they would send me the class notes.”

Chase is thankful for the USask Access & Equity Services (AES) program that helped her complete her degree.

“During the last part of my pregnancy and into Jacksons first eight months, I needed the AES program to help get me through. One day when I was trying to write a final exam, I had to rely on an invigilator, who was set up through AES, to play with him in the room while I wrote my final.”

Although it definitely made her post-secondary experience difficult at times, becoming a mom has helped her think differently as a nursing student.

“I was able to offer a different view in some situations, as I was able to see the family and patient perspective, as I had been a patient only a few months prior. During my obstetrical rotation, I had classmates asking for advice on how to hold newborns or take care of their specific needs. It was nice to be able to facilitate some of my classmates learning, outside of the academic side of things.”

“The USask College of Nursing holds themselves to high standards and the workload in the BSN program is not something to mess around with,” said Chase. “Luckily, I have a very supportive spouse and friends and family who were able to visit and alleviate some stress for me, while completing my program. Although there was lots of studying and homework, I still managed to find a way to prioritize family time.”

Now that her degree is complete, Chase has to balance being a mom and trying to study for the national licensure exam to become a registered nurse (RN).

“I am not writing until after the summer, as my spouse will be away for work. My full-time job this summer is being a mom to Jackson.”

Once she passes her exam and becomes an RN, Chase hopes to work in community or home care/palliative nursing.

“I cannot say enough about my nursing school experience with the USask College of Nursing through Parkland College,” she said. “It was a great program to make friends, as you all know what you’re going through as students and those friends can support you in ways others cannot. It feels like it’s been a long journey and of course mine was a bit different than others, but my classmates are some of my best friends and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have completed this program with some of the best future nurses I know!”

Is Chase done with school? She would love to become a nurse educator one day.

“I always enjoyed training in my work places and I think teaching others is a great way to reinforce your own learning.” 

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