No matter how many trials and tribulations life throws at Amy Todd, she never loses faith.
“After I got cancer in 2018, I had three surgeries and 21 radiation treatments,” she said. “Once I got through it, I wondered, once again, what God’s purpose was for me. I decided that I was meant to be more than a stay-at-home mom and a community nurse.”
So, Todd enrolled in the Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) online program at the University of Southern Indiana (USI). She continued to battle medical problems but never missed a beat and graduated in December 2020.
“Even though my cancer was over, I had a remission scare and got a pulmonary embolism and a pulmonary infarction,” she said. “I also got COVID-19 and was in the hospital for five days. I had my health issues and struggles, but the professors at USI are wonderful people. They lifted me up.”
Todd is in her fourth year as parish nurse coordinator and respect life coordinator at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Loogootee, Indiana.
“I do a lot of advocating, referral and one-on-one work with patients and families,” she said. “I have advocated more and had a louder voice lately. I didn’t think an associate degree was going to be enough for that, so I decided to go back.”
In fact, Todd wrote her first grant seven months before graduation after networking with the School of Public Health at Indiana University. Her efforts came to fruition in the form of a $2.1 million Health Resources and Services Administration telehealth grant for a psychiatric specialty.
“It’s exciting. I joined together a local hospital and Indiana University. I came up with an innovative way to meet the needs of our community,” she said of her realization that she could help fill a gap.
Todd grew up in southern Indiana and knew that nursing was her true calling. She graduated with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) from Vincennes University in 2001.
“With 15 weeks left in nursing school, I had an accident that required back surgery,” she said. “Doctors told me that I didn’t have any business being a nurse with my back problems. I pushed through and had a second surgery.
“That took me out of bedside and into administrative nursing. I did that for seven years before I left my full-time career to become the primary caregiver for my aunt, who had traumatic brain injury dementia.”
Todd and her husband, Patrick, have six children — Ethan (16), Sarah (14), Xavier (13), Declan (12), Liam (11) and Mary-Grace (8) — including two with special needs.
“Taking care of my aunt also allowed me to stay at home and take care of the kids,” she said. “My aunt passed away in 2015. Eight months later, her husband developed Alzheimer’s, and I became his primary caregiver. He passed away in 2019.”
Now that Todd is writing her second grant and working part time as a project manager at Indiana University, she is contemplating her next move.
“I don’t know where I’ll go as far as what master’s degree program to do, or if I need to do a doctorate,” she said. “I need to figure out my next step.
“I enjoy data mining, research and education. I love to get the analysis and put the pieces together. It helped me understand the importance of networking and getting accurate data and being up to date.”
The Sky Is the Limit
Todd benefited from the online RN to BSN program at USI in more ways than she expected. Now, she proudly calls herself a nurse.
“I learned so much,” she said. “One of the best things was understanding you don’t have to be a bedside nurse to be a nurse. I did not have the confidence to tell people I was a nurse because I wasn’t a bedside nurse.
“I realized through USI that it takes all kinds of nurses and a cognitive skill set for nurses at the bedside to become good clinicians. That empowered me to go out and be able to write this grant and get this resource.”
While enrolled in the program, Todd had lots of love and support from her family members and friends, which also helped her battle through her health issues without missing a beat with her schoolwork.
“My children consistently came in and asked me how I did on a test and told me that they were proud of me,” she said. “It was a blessing to be able to be part of that scene. They were all thrilled for me.”
Todd speaks from experience when she says that it’s important to keep communication lines open with the online RN to BSN faculty members at USI when personal issues arise.
“My advice is to be up front, open and honest,” she said. “These professors are so amazing. They want to see the profession, as a whole, succeed. They want to build you up and help you elevate yourself. They want to see you through the program.
“If you are an open book and explaining to the professor what you don’t get or what you can do better, they will work with you. I can’t thank these professors enough. I loved the program.”
Learn more about USI’s online RN to BSN program.