Brenda completed her Masters while working, raising kids and moving around Australia.

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Thanks to our brand partner, Open Universities Australia
 When Brenda Bruce decided to study nursing after high school, she had no idea she would fall in love with the profession.

But she did.

“I started my degree in 2001,” she told Mamamia. “I had thought about doing nursing but I wasn’t super keen on it. My best friend at the time didn’t want to go to uni by herself, so I went with her.”

“It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” she laughed. “So listen to your best mates.”

After she finished her undergraduate degree, Brenda headed to Mount Isa for a one-year rural placement. When she returned to Brisbane, she began working in the emergency ward. At that point she undertook some further study in emergency nursing.

A few more years into her career, and after a stint working overseas in Canada, Brenda decided she was ready to take the next step in her career.

“There are three streams you can go into in nursing – management, clinical and education,” she explained. “And management was where I wanted to be and where I thought my talents lie.”

So Brenda enrolled in the Master of Health Industry Management with Curtin University, studying online through Open Universities Australia.

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Brenda is a clinical nurse consultant. Image: supplied.

At the time she was single and child-free, but within a few short years, Brenda had married, relocated and started a family.

"I married an army officer - so we moved around a fair bit," she explained. "We got married and had kids, so I paused my study and then picked it back up at times when I thought I could do a little bit."

Brenda knew she wanted a specific degree that could get her where she wanted to be, and something that was flexible for her. That's why she chose Open Universities Australia.

"When I was looking for a course, there were a lot of unis that were offering a Masters of Nursing. But I knew I wanted to open my options to the entirety of healthcare," she explained.

"Open Universities were offering that in a way where I could do it from home."


The main drawcard for Brenda was the ability to fit further education into her already busy life.

"It was really flexible and that's what I needed," she said. "I was doing two subjects a semester and then the semester that I got married I dropped it down to one. So I could drop it down to one when I could look forward and see that I had something on."

Brenda also found that she could choose the subjects that suited her lifestyle at the time.

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Image: supplied.

"They have all of the subject plans online, so I could look at it and go 'OK, so I have time now to do one subject but I don't have time to do an exam, but this subject here is only assessed on assignments'," she said.

"So I could really choose which subject I did depending on what I had on when."

Despite studying remotely, Brenda always felt connected to the other students in her course.

"All of the subjects have a subject board online where you can talk to your peers and your unit coordinator," she said.

"They would also let you know who in your area was studying the same subjects as you, so you could talk to those people if you liked."

And support was always just a phone call away.

"They have such a good online call centre," she said. "They're so helpful - they were pretty much my personal assistants."

After nine years of part-time study around her growing family and burgeoning career, Brenda graduated from her Masters.

She's now a Clinical Nurse Consultant for Safety and Quality at Alice Springs Hospital.

Brenda's not the only one who has pursued their dreams through flexible study while juggling the demands of family life.


For years, Nessa worked hard building her career in human resources for the community health sector.

"I got into HR work, just administration at first," she explained. "And then worked my way up to being in a management role and at that time I was encouraged to finish off my bachelor degree."

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"It fitted my lifestyle." Image supplied.

When it came to taking the next step, Nessa knew she needed to complete some further study without disrupting her lifestyle. So, like Brenda, she turned to Open Universities Australia.

"In terms of my career ambitions and where I ultimately want to end up, leaders and managers in the past have talked to me about the importance of having the theory behind the practice," she said.

She studied Griffith University's Master of Employment Relations online through Open Universities Australia - all while working full time and caring for her 13-year-old brother, who was under her guardianship.

Nessa had two children, and did another degree through Open Universities Australia, earning her Executive MBA from RMIT.

As a working mum-of-two, the flexibility of online study was a perfect fit for her.

"It fitted my lifestyle, " she said. "I couldn't afford to actually take time off from work."

"Having children it was also very helpful in trying to accommodate that juggle as well. Because it means I can study at any time of the day, so it gives me that flexibility."

Nessa is now the General Manager of People and Communications at Merri Health.

If you're ready to take the next step in your career, visit Open Universities Australia to browse hundreds of different degrees that you can fit in and around your busy lifestyle.

This content was brought to you with thanks by our brand partner, Open Universities Australia. 

Open Universities Australia

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