A year on the job, a year of challenges, and the Year of the Nurse
By Taylor Utzig
Since she first chose to pursue a nursing career, Robin Olson (BSN ‘19) has wanted to work at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Now, during the Year of the Nurse, the COVID-19 pandemic, and her first full year as a registered nurse, she’s fulfilling that dream. “It marks the year that I have and will continue to navigate through critical diseases, emergency events, and rapid responses,” she says.
Olson works in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) as part of its New Grad RN Residency program. Her shifts begin at 7 p.m. and last until the early morning. Despite working the night shift, Olson looks forward to each new assignment and patient, ranging from a few hours old to 12 months old. “The beauty of the NICU at Lurie Children’s is you get exposed to a little of everything,” she says. “It’s such a privilege to care for these little warriors that teach me to embrace life to the fullest.”
As they often do, one of those “little warriors” left a lasting imprint on Olson. After three nights of trying to bathe one patient and being met by her kicks, cries, and distress, Olson finally found a soothing remedy, with the help of Disney’s Frozen 2. “With the music playing, I started singing quietly to her as I got ready to put the lavender soap in her hair... she looked at me and smiled and cooed through the whole bath,” recalls Olson. “I was so moved that I got her to smile and relax, even if it was just for a couple songs.”
It’s moments like those, that remind Olson of the importance of cura personalis, care for the whole person, an ideal that was instilled in her during her Loyola education. To her, it means seeing a patient as more than a diagnosis or vital signs and in this case, as a little girl who loves Frozen 2, the color pink, and the little squirrel on the mobile above her crib.
"This year, the Year of the Nurse, will be full of challenges and opportunities to grow and learn, and I’m so excited to be celebrating this incredible profession."
As Olson, like other health care professionals, faces the challenge of a global health crisis, her commitment to patient care does not waver. Outfitted in masks, face shields, gloves, and gowns, she continues to find ways to provide the compassionate, thoughtful care that puts patients and families at ease. "I am so proud of the countless alumni, many of which I had the privilege to graduate with, who are on the frontlines, working day and night in the middle of this pandemic with courage and competence,” she says.
Throughout her four years at Loyola, Olson created countless bonds with classmates and faculty. In fact, it was the University’s strong sense of community that attracted her in the first place. “Even now, I hold friendships I made during that time very close to my heart. Loyola Nursing truly is a family,” she says.
Some of her mentorships with Loyola faculty have even inspired Olson to consider returning to school to train future generations of nurses. “As much as our instructors taught us to think critically, they also made sure to check on every students’ well-being,” explains Olson. “They inspire me to want to someday teach and give that same love and attention to students, while helping them feel secure and safe in a stressful learning environment.” For now, though, Olson is happy on the night shift, caring for young patients, and continuing to grow and learn as a Lurie Children’s nurse and a Loyola Nursing alumna.
Read more alumni stories and learn about how Loyola is celebrating the Year of the Nurse.