The Hub Tina Butler: A calling to help others
National Nursing Week

Tina Butler: A calling to help others

By: Tina Butler

At what point in your life is it too late to pursue your educational dreams? When must you “settle” in your career? How many times should you change occupations in your lifetime? When do you decide that your academic needs matter?

When your children are babies, you are completely consumed with every precious little moment. You do not want to leave them for fear of missing any milestones!

Upon entering school, many new challenges arise which children are subjected to – the list seems infinite! As a parent, there is no time to turn around, let alone continue your education. They need you more than ever.  It feels like you cannot justify investing in your own future when you have three kids to raise and educate, all while surviving the most acrimonious divorce in recent history…

A beginning full of rich experiences

I was born and raised in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland. Although I vehemently deny that in public, I am the eldest of three children and grew up in a stereotypical, nuclear family. My parents loved us dearly and strived to provide us with the best family, rich in traditions including: Easter baskets, summer camping, trout fishing, bicycle riding, swimming in the rivers, skating on the ponds, sleepovers with cousins, back-to-school shopping, abundant Thanksgiving turkey dinners, family board and card games; Christmas and New Year’s Eve with plenty of cousins, aunts, uncles, nans and pops who all frequented our house daily. Our home was home to all; everyone was welcome, and the kettle was always on for tea.

My parents, without university degrees, owned and operated a small health-care business. My mom toiled very hard; my Dad worked at his hobbies, all while being supportive and proud of us all. He farmed, fished, and hunted, while also providing firewood to keep us warm (our home was heated with a cozy wood furnace.) He did odd jobs and helped us and our mom. His biggest dream for the three of us kids, was to “earn our education…because that was something that could never be taken away,” and, “become more than I am.” Thankfully, he lived to see us all educated, successful, and pursuing our own, very diverse, interests.

Tina Butler with her mom

A proud mom of three

My own three boys are becoming more independent in recent years, with the eldest so focused and driven that he was accepted into the engineering faculty. Currently, he is enroled in his third year at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.

My middle boy’s interests lay in kinesiology. He holds a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of attitude. He is my blood donor – perhaps my little traveling humanitarian? He is patient, kind, and thrives on meeting like-minded people. He especially loves animals and children.

My baby boy has a huge heart. He is enroled in grade-nine french immersion. He is my helper and soulful child. He is passionate about music, with Elton John as his idol.

My biggest home commitments have evolved to: family meal prep, keeping house, laundry, transportation, and attendance to my youngest’s local music gigs!

The realization is that the time for mama to return to school is now!

A credible program

For many years, I have wanted to pursue a masters degree; however, I was unsure of the discipline. Since 2015, I had been itching for more knowledge and began perusing various university websites. I had actually applied to and been accepted to attend another online university to study a Masters in Counselling Psychology. However, upon advice, I recognized the credibility of that institution may not have been strong. I was fearful of wasting my time, resources, and energy if that institution run into financial difficulty, so I reneged on my acceptance.

I continued to research programs and universities, and was interested in one simply because I love their ring! Of course, I immediately acknowledged the shallowness of my thinking, plus there were no appealing online programs offered there for me.

I almost applied to a program “in my own backyard”; however, that program was being revamped and had been in that process for quite some time. As such, they were not accepting part-time students, nor did they have a deadline for completion of the new program. By the time that program is revised and open to new students, perhaps I can have another degree partially completed!

I kept looking…

“ I had heard about Athabasca University (AU). In fact, I believe my cousin may have graduated from there with a Masters of Nursing a few years ago. I reviewed the website and the was online, challenging, stimulating, and user-friendly.”

– Tina Butler

I had heard about Athabasca University (AU). In fact, I believe my cousin may have graduated from there with a Master of  Nursing a few years ago. I reviewed the website and the program…it was online, challenging, stimulating, and user-friendly. I began soliciting advice from friends, almost all of whom are health-care professionals. They know me well, and are aware of my: busy brain, my desire for continuing education, energy, commitment, determination, career dreams, and aspirations. They are also aware of the unexplained roadblocks I have encountered each time I apply for a more stimulating career position.

Currently, I am employed with a great company, and work with awesome colleagues! However, I see myself wanting more in the future, from a career standpoint.

The next stop

Tina with her partner, Rod
Tina with her partner, Rod

Following some pretty serious conversation with my partner, who has been only supportive, I decided to enrol in a single course…Nursing 610.

My personal journey, as described, has landed me here – at AU! This is my first course, but it certainly doesn’t stop now. I am hoping Athabasca University holds my “ticket to ride,” which would liberate me, and offer me new wings to fly! My future (and that of my three beautiful boys) is dependent on how I perform on  each assignment, within each course.


I am taking everything one communication, one day, and one week at a time. One-course-at-a-time. My plan is to be cautious, similar to that of my middle boy – “slow and steady wins the race.” My intention and hope is to successfully complete four courses, one per semester, as an open studies student. Then, upon building a little academic confidence and realizing my potential, I intend to apply as a program student to the Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) Program. I will map out a plan to expedite my academic journey in an effort to open new and exciting opportunities for me, as I enter, perhaps, the final chapter of my nursing career.

Tina is currently a Team Lead RN in a Private Retirement Residence. She had worked in both acute and long-term health care for several years, when she decided to further her education. With the love and support from her three growing boys and partner, she embarked on one of her greatest challenges – obtaining an Athabasca University Master of Nursing Degree.  

Having a strong self-awareness that the caring profession is rooted in her soul, she knows it will be a journey of perseverance. Having achieved a B+ in her first Nursing Research Course (610), she plans on taking it one assignment at a time until she successfully completes the Master of Nursing: (Nurse Practitioner) Program. “Beyond 50,” Beyond Promising! 

  • May 12, 2020
Guest Blog from:
Tina Butler