How a nursing career led to a law degree with Purdue Global Law School

A nurse with personal experience in end-of-life care, Abby Strehle has evolved her career in health care by earning her JD. Now, she can guide her patients and their families through the legal challenges they face in the midst of tragedy. (Purdue University photo / Kelsey Lefever)

This nurse practitioner found her passion caring for patients’ legal needs

A personal tragedy made Abby Strehle realize that, with a degree from Purdue Global Law School, she would be in a unique position to help her patients at their most vulnerable. Now she’s sharing her story. 

My grandma was diagnosed in 2013 with glioblastoma, which is a really aggressive brain tumor. She’d been living independently and, in a day, all of that changed. My mom had to work with an elder law attorney to get everything in order really quickly. Around the same time, my other grandma was declining. She had dementia, so her decline was very slow, but still my dad had to deal with a lot of legal issues — selling her house, trying to protect her assets. 

In the meantime, I’d been a nurse practitioner in the ICU, and I was evaluating the next steps in my career. I’m a single mom. Just from a practical standpoint, I’ll still have to work for another 20, 25 years. But I wanted to be able to be there for all of my kids’ things, and I had to ask myself, “Do I still want to be working in a hospital in 20 years?” Physically, mentally, I needed a next step. I needed a plan that was going to be sustainable but also rewarding and enjoyable. I didn’t expect it to lead me to law school with Purdue Global, but it’s enabled me to move forward.

After going through everything with my grandma, I knew. This. This was my place. I needed to take my experience in the ICU, where I was already dealing with a lot of end-of-life situations, and counsel and educate patients and their families when they’re hospitalized. Or patients who may be thinking about their future, or they’ve been faced with a diagnosis they weren’t expecting, and now their life’s changed completely. I wanted to take the opportunity where my professional experience and my personal experience came together to help people, because I understand what they’re dealing with. I understand what they’re afraid of. I can try to reassure them and help them; I know how to put together a plan so they can feel more comfortable and reassured that this is going to be OK. 

Purdue Global was my only chance to make it happen. I knew a brick-and-mortar school would never work for where my life is now. Other Indiana schools have evening programs, but that’s every evening. Every evening for four years. It’s absolutely not an option for me. I wanted to make this change to spend more time with my family, not less. 

I’m done with my last term now. I had an externship with an elder law attorney, which was really reassuring to me that I’d made the right choice. And in the end, she offered me a job. I’m still working as a nurse practitioner right now. I like that that’s the job that pays my bills. She knows I’m still working in the hospital, and soon I’ll be able to start a slow transition out of all of that. 

Now, I get to build my life around my priorities. I have the freedom with my schedule I need to be there for my family.

I get to build my life around my priorities. I have the freedom with my schedule I need to be there for my family.

Abby Strehle Juris Doctor ’23 / Purdue Global Law School

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