Hannah Kolinski was already on the fast track to earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing. As a high school student, she’d taken advantage of The University of Toledo’s College Credit Plus program and was set to graduate from UToledo in just three years.
That timeline accelerated even more when the call came out from hospitals — they needed more nurses because of COVID-19, and they needed them as soon as possible.
With the support of the UToledo College of Nursing, Kolinski was able to graduate several weeks early to get a jump start on her job as an intensive care nurse at ProMedica.
“When they offered us the early graduation, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to take it and start early. I was excited about it,” she said. “I went into nursing to help people, and I feel like right now people need a lot of help. Any part that I can have in that, I definitely want to be there.”
Kolinski, who grew up in Oregon, Ohio, is scheduled to start soon at ProMedica. She will join the intensive care unit at ProMedica Bay Park Hospital, which has been designated ProMedica’s main site for treating patients with the coronavirus in the Toledo region.
In all, more than half of UToledo nursing students who were expected to graduate in May opted to graduate early in order to more quickly join the workforce and confront the pandemic.
For Kolinski, it was a natural decision. She can’t remember not wanting to be a nurse. She never considered another career path. As a high school junior, she tailored her post-secondary class choices to knock out as many nursing prerequisites as possible.
As fate would have it, Kolinski was finishing up her clinical work at that very ProMedica ICU when the COVID-19 pandemic forced UToledo to temporarily suspend clinical rotations for students.
“When it got cut short because of the pandemic, I was really sad. I was learning so much every shift, but it worked out perfectly. There was an open position, I interviewed, and I got it,” Kolinski said.
That familiarity with where she’ll be working, she said, makes her feel even more prepared to jump in and contribute — even in the midst of one of the most challenging times in healthcare.
“There’s always a little bit of fear going into the unknown. We don’t know a ton about this virus. It’ll be my first job, and I could be taking care of a patient with this, but I’ve always known I wanted to help people and be out there,” she said. “I’m excited to start helping people. There’s just so much of a need.”
And while COVID-19 cut short Kolinski’s time on campus, she said there’s a good chance she’ll be back in the future.
“I really enjoyed school, and UToledo made me want to further my education beyond just an undergrad degree,” she said. “I’m excited to explore the options.”