Rushing to the front lines comes naturally for Josh Howarth.
He enlisted with the Army National Guard in 2016, after earning a bachelor of science degree from The University of Toledo. The memory of the United States’ involvement in Iraq was fresh in his mind when making that decision — from both a military perspective and a humanitarian one.
“I paid close attention to the Iraq situation while in high school,” said Howarth, who through the individualized studies program earned his undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies with a pre-physician’s assistant concentration. “I always wanted to connect military service with nursing, but didn’t really know what that looked like.”
Four years later, Howarth will earn his second UToledo diploma today — a master of science in nursing degree through the Clinical Nurse Leader Program — a few weeks early. In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the University is allowing more than 275 medical and nursing students the option of graduating early.
Howarth has always thrived in fast-paced environments that allow him to help people. He welcomes the opportunity to take his UToledo education to the field sooner than expected, joining other healthcare professionals fighting coronavirus directly.
His passion for serving veterans was stoked early. Howarth’s first job in his native Flat Rock, Mich., was caring for the grounds at the cemetery of a community church with his father, David. He remembers planting flags and making other preparations in honor of Veterans Day.
Throughout his education, Howarth has continued to sharpen his skills in nursing beyond the classroom working night shifts as a nursing assistant at Regency Hospital, an acute care facility in the Toledo area. And he’s drawn valuable insights from interprofessional team simulations, completing a seminar for mental health first aid and participating in academic boot camp activities.
“Whether we students want to be respiratory therapists, speech pathologists or physicians, when we get into the real world we have to be able to collaborate,” Howarth said. “These experiences have been great because I’ve been able to network with colleagues and people I might never have met.”
Entering the profession during an unprecedented public health crisis doesn’t intimidate Howarth.
“The field of nursing is ever-changing. I’ve learned you have to be comfortable with a little chaos.”