Linda Corbitt knows what it’s like to be a patient, lying in a hospital bed foggy and in pain after surgery. She knows the fear and uncertainty that follow.
As grave as those moments have been when she was unsure where to find the strength to keep going, she’s also felt love and compassion so profound that it changed her life.
“I don’t want to be a patient anymore. I want to be a nurse,” Corbitt said. “I want to give back to those who breathed life into me during some of my darkest times.”
Corbitt, 45, a wife and mother of four, is on track to graduate with a master of science degree in nursing from The University of Toledo in May. She applied to the program in 2019 while recovering from her 15th surgery. Her health battles began in 2013 with a preventive double mastectomy due to a rare mutation she has that increases her risk of breast cancer. She developed a paralyzed colon, though doctors are unsure why, that required the removal of her large intestines and has had many reconstructive surgeries.
“You can either let it get you down and keep you in those dark places or you can do something about it,” Corbitt said. “And I decided I wanted to go out and do something about it. My joy comes from serving others going through hard times.”
Corbitt left a successful career in banking and commercial lending to enroll in nursing school, and is deeply committed to her new role as a caregiver. Along with her classes, precepting assignments and many hours of studying, Corbitt is an avid volunteer with UToledo’s CommunityCare Clinics and repeatedly helped administer COVID-19 vaccines at The University of Toledo Medical Center and area health departments.
“It’s invigorating,” she said. “Not only does it help me grow and learn a lot of things about patient care, but I’m giving back to my own community. For me, that’s one of the most fulfilling things. That’s why I became a nurse: to come in and love people in their moment.”
Dr. Susan Batten, associate professor in the UToledo College of Nursing, has been alongside Corbitt during some of her volunteer experiences. She recalled one heartwarming moment during a CommunityCare Clinics Labre Traveling Clinic when Corbitt approached a young woman, who was crouched down, and sat next to her, offering her care, food and support. The Labre Traveling Clinic is held year-round to provide care to unserved and underserved people in the south and east Toledo communities.
“No one directed Linda to engage with the woman, it was instinctive and deeply personal,” Batten said. “Linda is an eager learner, highly engaged and has tremendous empathy for those in her care.”
Batten and Corbitt also recently traveled to Guatemala together in January as part of the Medical Mission Antigua team. While there, Corbitt helped with physical exams, patient teaching and hands-on care procedures.
“It was a phenomenal experience,” she said. “There were hundreds of people lined up every day waiting for care. It was very much an honor to be a part of that.”
Corbitt also has volunteered at the Women’s Health Clinic at CedarCreek Church in south Toledo and plans to continue volunteering after graduation.
“Walking away from my career was one of the hardest things I ever did. I loved my job,” Corbitt said. “But I love what I do now. Whether it’s volunteering at a clinic or signing in for a precepting assignment, you know what matters when you’re not getting paid and still giving it all you’ve got. I got life, and I just want to give back.”