Merinda Robbins was born in the very hospital where she works today as a nurse. But nursing wasn’t her first career path. The native of Inverness, Florida, started out after high school as a bank teller, but an unexpected cancer diagnosis in her late 20s changed her life.
“I was a parent of two primary school-age children when I was diagnosed with cancer,” says Merinda. After surgery to remove the cancer, she was inspired by the nursing staff caring for her. “They were so kind to me during a very difficult time. And as much as I appreciated the doctors, I realized at that time that it is the nurses who are there for you and care for you every day.” A year later after she recovered, Merinda was enrolled in a nursing program at Central Florida College.
Starting her nursing journey
Merinda started her nursing career at Monroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, where she was in the intermediate care area. She then took a position closer to home at Bayfront Health Seven Rivers, gaining some intensive care unit experience. She moved after a year and a half to Leesberg Regional Medical, where she continued in the ICU for another seven years.
“I really love the ICU,” says Merinda. “I had an affinity for working with people with serious conditions and their families.” After a while, she had the chance to join Citrus Memorial Hospital as a cardiovascular intensive care unit nurse, which felt like home. During a two-year hiatus, Merinda also gained experience as a travel nurse.
Back to school
In 2017, Merinda’s career at Citrus Memorial was going well—but when the hospital hosted an education fair, it got her thinking. “I realized that school was something I had always thought I’d return to but just hadn’t gotten to it,” she says. I’d been a nurse for 20 years at that point and I thought, ‘If I don’t do this now, when will I?’”
American Sentinel University was one of the schools at the fair that stood out, and after doing her research, Merinda enrolled in the RN to BSN program in November 2017. “I was so impressed all around with my advisors and my instructors,” she says. “If I needed help, they were an email or call away.”
A new job
In June 2019, Merinda applied for a job as a clinical educator at Citrus Memorial. “I was so close to having my BSN that they considered me, and I got it!” she says. “I’ve been at the bedside for a long time and while I love it, it was time for something new. I’ve enjoyed teaching other nurses in my career, so when this position opened up, I was really excited.”
As she has received in her own career, Merinda strives to offer encouragement to other nurses. “I love seeing that look on a nurse’s face when I help them learn something new or figure it out,” she says. “As a clinical educator, I want to give nurses the best start possible.”
Continuing her education
After graduating with the BSN in August 2019, Merinda decided to continue her education and earn an MSN Nursing Education at American Sentinel. She’ll start the program in January 2020. She wants to prepare herself for future opportunities. “Teaching online or as an adjunct locally really appeals to me,” she says.
For now, however, Merinda is excited to be able to apply what she learns in the MSN to her new position at Citrus Memorial. “We were acquired by HCA Healthcare recently, so I know that there will be growth opportunity,” she says, adding that she might pursue the Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership specialization as well. I’m excited that I now have the education to take advantage of that.”
Inspired by Merinda’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, infection control, or case management. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.