How the Buddy System Can Help You Earn a Degree

Brittney Williams and Sadie Leman have been classmates and coworkers for years. Having gone through undergrad studies to become nurses, they are now pursuing their family nurse practitioner (FNP) master’s and doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees simultaneously at Bradley. Many hospitals now require nurse practitioners to have a doctorate, so many students opt to do both programs at once.

Williams encouraged Leman to apply to Bradley at the same time she did. “I looked at other options but decided to go with Bradley because the program is shorter, and I heard good things about it,” said Leman.

Compared to other FNP/DNP programs which can run five to six years, Bradley’s takes just under four years, with three 15-week semesters per year. The courses are online which was another major consideration, as both are working nurses.

“It’s more accommodating to my schedule and I really like the continuous three-semester vs. two semester program,” Williams noted. “There isn’t a lot of downtime between semesters which keeps my motivation high.”

She and Leman get together once a week to study and bounce ideas off each other. “The support is crucial because this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Leman explained. Because they are based in Peoria and work for OSF, they have the home court advantage when it comes to their clinicals.

“My teacher works at OSF so he’s familiar with the organization and how it runs, so the personal guidance has helped me navigate the clinical setting,” Williams said.

For the DNP program, students are required to complete an intensive quality improvement project. As a practicing nurse, Williams experienced and witnessed nurse burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic, so she’s implementing a wellness tool for nurses to debrief and get to the root cause of the problem.

“COVID impacted nurses significantly and changed the nursing professional profoundly,” she said. “I want to help people get past this.”

Leman’s DNP project focuses on managing pain and anxiety for pediatric patients without using medication in an outpatient setting.

“I want to implement a plan for nurses to help kids manage their anxiety when they’re going in for routine vaccinations or lab draws—things that can be done without medications,” she said.

The friends will both graduate in 2024 and are grateful to have each other for support. As Williams said, “It’s helpful to have someone in the same boat.”

Emily Potts