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Mackenzie "Mack" Stanley and his wife, Paige Stanley, graduated together from Upstate as nurse practitioners in May 2023. Photo by William Mueller
Mackenzie "Mack" Stanley and his wife, Paige Stanley, graduated together from Upstate as nurse practitioners in May 2023. Photo by William Mueller

They made it work: Couple became nurse practitioners together


A desk calendar in the den of Paige and Mackenzie “Mack” Stanley’s home holds the key to their success as students at Upstate Medical University. For the last three years, they planned out their lives in semester-long chunks.

With that desk pad and a set of colored highlighters, they meticulously recorded their work shifts as nurses at a nearby hospital (yellow); their nursing clinical rotations (purple); in-person classes at Upstate (blue); virtual classes (green); and on top of that, their 4-year-old daughter, Finley’s, schedule (pink) and anything else (orange).

The two high school sweethearts received their family nurse practitioner degrees from Upstate’s College of Nursing after 10 years of school, sacrifice and scheduling.

Paige knew she wanted to go into nursing since high school at Red Creek Central School. She earned her associate’s degree in nursing two years after graduating high school and immediately began work on her bachelor’s.

“I love helping people,” Paige said. “I love taking care of people. I have a very empathic nature, and I wanted to be able to give back to others.”

Mack wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after high school, and during that time started helping care for his grandfather, Gerald, who was sick. He would visit him and help feed and care for him and noticed the great care he received. That helped Mack decide to join Paige to pursue a career in nursing. Mack earned his licensed practical nursing diploma and then started to work on his bachelor’s.

“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Mack said.

In the middle of all this, the couple got married and had a baby.

They both continued with school, their clinical hours and work. Some days, Paige would meet Mack in the parking lot of Newark-Wayne Community Hospital after he worked the day shift. She would hand off Finley and then go work the night shift.

Paige earned her bachelor’s in 2018; Mack earned his in 2020. Then, together, they enrolled at Upstate to become family nurse practitioners.

Until they graduated in May 2023, their only real alone time was during their hourlong commute to campus from Wolcott, or when they sat in class together. Paige explained how they made it work: “We lean on each other. We take turns. One night I’ll do bedtime, and he will study, and the next night, we switch.”

After graduation, Paige took a job at Finger Lakes Community Health Center in Sodus. Mack continued to work at Newark-Wayne Community Hospital as a hospitalist.

“I am really glad we chose to go to Upstate,” Mack said. “The professors are really invested in the success of the program and of the students, and that helped us so much. A big part of our success was the true investment the institution had in all the students.”


Educational options

Upstate’s College of Nursing is the only program in the region that is part of an academic medical center.

Registered nurses can earn a bachelor’s degree in 16 months in a fully online program.

Students with a bachelor’s degree can earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and become a family, pediatric, psychiatric or adult geriatric nurse practitioner in a program that takes three years full-time in a combination of face-to-face and online courses.

Students with a clinical master’s degree from an accredited nursing program can earn advanced certificates (in family, pediatric, geriatric or psychiatric mental health) through a combination of online and face-to-face courses.

Nurse practitioners can earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree online, taking courses part time.

Learn details at upstate.edu/con.

This article appears in the 2024 Upstate Health magazine, Issue 1.