Robin Cox is busy. Very busy. She has been trying to navigate work as a registered nurse in the COVID unit at The University of Toledo Medical Center while simultaneously completing her family nurse practitioner education at the College of Nursing.
Busy days aren’t entirely unexpected, but busy days like this are something else entirely, prompting a high level of caution from Cox, who’s on the front lines of a pandemic still putting thousands in the hospital every day.
“I would go to work, come home and enter my house through the side door. I would place my clothes in the washer, shower and then go upstairs, where I sat across the room from my boys,” she said. “We did air hugs and kisses and I would go to bed.”
All this in pursuit of a master’s degree in UToledo’s nursing program, which Cox initially pursued in hopes of creating more options to teach future nurses. Since joining the program, though, Cox has discovered a love for advanced practice nursing, a realization fueled in part by the “heartbreaking and eye-opening” journey of working amidst a pandemic.
“My head would spin sometimes, you didn’t have time to stop and process the death or mourn the patient because you had to move on to the next and do whatever you could to try and save them,” she said.
Buoyed by the staff at UTMC, Cox pressed on, collaborating with healthcare workers of all stripes, from doctors and nurses to respiratory therapists, occupational therapists and physical therapists, each of whom stepped up in their own unique way. Cox’s own work has drawn plenty of praise as well, including attention from Dr. Carrie Lee, a professor in UToledo’s nursing program.
“Robin exemplifies so much of what we see in our graduate students — most of whom are working nurses with busy community and family lives,” Lee said. “They set new goals to advance in their profession and achieve these goals through organization, juggling responsibilities and persistence.
“The impact of the pandemic has added another layer,” she added, “with a uniquely challenging work environment posing demands on their time and well-being. My usual pride in students like Robin is heightened when I think about the last year for them in nursing practice.”