Dedicated from a distance

UND online nursing student Abbey Anderson plows toward another degree while balancing busy work and home life

Abbey Anderson has a passion for nursing that’s rooted deep within her family.

Her grandmother practiced nursing for 50 years, and her aunt also is a nurse. Anderson currently is a student in her final year of UND’s Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Clinical Track distance education program.

“My grandmother instilled in me that there are always people who are worse off and need help,” Anderson said. “That drew me toward nursing.”

Anderson got her first real taste for helping care for people as a first responder with her local ambulance service in Cooperstown, N.D., about 70 miles southwest of Grand Forks and UND’s College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines.

Today, when she’s not studying or taking exams, Anderson works part time as a registered nurse in the emergency room at Altru Health System in Grand Forks. She also serves as an education facilitator for “Simulation in Motion North Dakota” in a specially modified truck that travels to rural communities in the state. In that role, Anderson provides free education to local emergency medical services and hospitals.

Anderson, a young married student, has sometimes found it difficult to prioritize work and school, but pursuing her degree online at UND has allowed her to continue to make a living and advance her education at the same time.

“I’m able to watch an hour of class before work starts or before I go to bed,” Anderson said. “I can access the content whenever — which is great. I make my schedule fit around me instead of me fitting it around school.”

Loyal to UND

Anderson became aware of UND’s online nursing program as an undergrad at the University. She remembers other nursing students arriving for their on-campus visits.

“I visited with them and asked how they enjoyed the program, which drew me toward it,” Anderson said. “I’m also very faithful to UND — it’s home to me. I am extremely loyal to the school and all it has given me.”

Abbey Anderson

When she’s not studying or taking exams, Abbey Anderson works part time as a registered nurse in the emergency room at Altru Health System in Grand Forks. She also serves as an education facilitator for “Simulation in Motion North Dakota” in a specially modified truck that travels to rural communities in the state.

Anderson graduated from UND in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which allowed her to take her national examination to certify as a registered nurse. Once completed, Anderson’s current pursuits in the FNP will result in a Master of Science with a major in Nursing.

She will complete her online master’s degree in just over two years and plans to graduate this spring.

“The instructors are awesome,” Anderson said. “If something comes up or your schedule changes, they are extremely accommodating, but, at the same time, the faculty are there to push you to excel.”

Rural mission

The FNP program has an on-campus laboratory requirement that brings all its students to campus for one week every semester, or four visits total.

“It’s great because you get to see students you interact with online,” Anderson said. “You really get to know them and are able to put a face to the name.”

After completing her degree, Anderson plans to get a job in family practice and hopes to settle down in a rural community like her native Cooperstown. Anderson is in the right place for that kind of mission, as UND’s College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines and School of Medicine and Health Sciences are national leaders in the education of healthcare workers for rural and underserved areas of the country.

What else might be in store for ambitious Anderson?

“I see myself working in family practice, strengthening my skill set, and perhaps, one day going back to UND for my Doctorate of Nursing Practice,” Anderson said. “I want to be a leader in my profession.”

Hannah Manske
Extended Learning Communication Intern