Nadine Burns and her daughter, Amie Burns-Scharnke, are taking the family's nursing tradition to the next level next week.
The two will walk across the stage together during Sunday's graduation ceremonies at Valparaiso University to accept their doctorates in nursing. It will complete a goal they decided to pursue together three years ago.
"It's been a wonderful experience to do it with her," Burns said. "The studying and the work is intense, and any time one of us would feel the work becoming overwhelming, the other would say we could do this."
Amie was three-months old when her mother first started training to become a nurse in 1982. After receiving a diploma in nursing in 1984, it took her 10 years to earn a bachelor's degree while raising her family. She returned to school immediately and received a masters in 1997 to be a family nurse practitioner and followed that with a post-graduate certificate in midwifery in 1999.
Her daughter earned a biology degree in 2003 before gaining her bachelor's degree as a registered nurse in 2006 and her masters as a nurse practitioner in 2008.
The two considered attending medical school together to become doctors.
"We woke up one day and neither us wanted to go to med school," Burns-Scharnke said.
Initially, Burns-Scharnke wasn't sure she wanted to become a nurse, but her mother suggested she take a class or two to see if she liked it. Then she got into the accelerated RN program and just kept going.
"I had a great role model," Burns-Scharnke said. "Both my parents helped, and Dad help Mom in supporting her going to school."
Burns said one of the reasons Amie was able to get through her academic career faster than her mother was because she didn't have a family to raise. That changed during the pursuit of the doctorate.
"She had the audacity to get engaged, married and pregnant all in the last year," Burns said tongue-in-cheek. The baby is due in September.
"It means so much more to know she will be walking across the stage with me," Burns said, adding the degree is "the culmination of a lifelong dream."
She and Burns-Scharnke will both be teaching a class for nurse practitioners at Governor's State University this summer, and Burns said she might do some more teaching in the future.
Burns, of Hammond, works as a nurse practitioner at Ingalls Hospital for occupational medicine. Burns-Scharnke, of Schererville, recently started work at Franciscan St. Margaret Health hospital in Dyer as a family nurse practitioner doing family clinic office and nursing home visits.
Burns-Scharnke's older sister, Jamie Rosen, will graduate this month as a licensed practical nurse, and her mother said she'd like to get at least a masters.