Single Dad Retools for Nursing Career
For Daniel Schuckman, coming from a medical family and having a background in psychological counseling has led him to a pretty natural decision to become a nurse, he says. And, as a busy single father of two young children, MNU’s accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing program (ABSN) is enabling him to prepare for the profession quickly.
“My mother is a registered nurse who captivated me, as a child, with stories from [her work],” he said. “And the first organization for developmentally disabled persons in Lawrence, Kansas, was the Bess Stone Activity Center, which was named after my grandmother. Their influence has made me think about nursing for some time.”
Schuckman earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Washburn University and then nearly finished a master’s degree in psychological counseling, which he intends to finish in the near future by taking four more courses. Understanding mental conditions will help with nursing, he says, but so will previous jobs as a phlebotomist, a lab assistant at a major hospital, a volunteer at a hospice agency, and an assessor of autistic children. His most recent job gave him an another view of life working for two years as an investigator for Child Protective Services in Austin, Texas.
“As a field investigator, I would interview families and the children after a report of possible abuse or neglect was received by our office,” he said. “It was quite interesting and definitely taxing. But that job was not the stereotypical view of an over-zealous social worker ripping a child away from a family. Often it was helping a family get the resources and education they needed for a good outcome.”
Schuckman, 36, says he would like to combine nursing and counseling. “I’d like to work three days a week as a nurse, then see clients as a marriage and family therapist,” he said. “And I think the counseling will definitely complement nursing because part of the medical assessment is understanding what is going on mentally with a patient.”
His passion for nursing comes from several directions. “Seeing that family legacy of nursing while I grew up was one influence, but I also feel like nursing is a good way to live a life helping others, especially one-on-one.”
Schuckman is also something of a pioneer in the field, being a man and a single father. “You don’t hear a lot about single fathers raising kids while working. My son is nine and my daughter is 12,” he said. “My mom helps out watching the kids while I am in school now with a demanding schedule.”
And being a man in the nursing profession, which is still dominated by women, is still something of a novelty, he said. “Yes, we guys in the nursing program talk about maybe some patients will kid us about being a male nurse,” he said. “When my mom went to nursing school 30 years ago there were no men in her class, but there are several in my class.”
The one-year accelerated nursing program has been academically challenging, he said. “I definitely overestimated my ability to get through this program in the same way I did my undergraduate and graduate studies,” he said. “Squeezing two years of nursing studies into 11 months is tough. I am studying every single minute, but I am enjoying it too.” In fact, the classes he likes most are some of the hardest, such as pharmacology.
Schuckman feels fortunate to be one of ten MNU students in the ABSN program this year to receive $10,000 in a New Career in Nursing (NCIN) scholarship from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The scholarship exists to address the nationwide nursing shortage and promote diversity within the field, including more men. MNU is one of about 50 select institutions nationwide to receive the funding.
“Without the scholarship, I would have had to ask my parents to help or get a private loan in the short amount of time before the program started, so this was a big help,” he said.
The funding supports students in the program who are traditionally underrepresented in the field of nursing. The scholarship program was launched in 2008 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to address the national nursing shortage, develop a diverse professional nursing workforce, and fuel the pipeline of nurse faculty and leaders.
Schuckman said his advice for prospective students is the same that MNU gives: “Make sure your relationships are secure and your family understands this will take a lot of time and energy,” he said.
For more information on MNU nursing programs, visit www.mnu.edu/nursing. For information about RWJF-NCIN scholarships, see www.newcareersinnursing.org.