Taylor Campbell

Master of Science in Nursing – FNP '20

South Kingston, RI

Nursing@Simmons Graduate Makes a Lasting Difference in NYC Coronavirus Unit

On April 24, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor Campbell went “viral” on Facebook. Over 400,000 people liked one of her posts, and approximately 125,000 Facebook users shared it on their own pages and timelines. Some called her “an inspiration” and a “hero,” while others thanked her for her service. Another said, “this is the definition of NURSE.”

Despite the tremendous response to her post, Taylor believed that she was just doing her job.

Her post was a picture commemorating her 21st and last day of a contract nursing job in a coronavirus unit at New York City’s Metropolitan Hospital Center. The recent graduate of Simmons’ online MSN — FNP program had red mask marks imprinted on her face, but they framed a big smile. She had just successfully extubated a patient she had been caring for since the first day her unit had opened.

Taylor was tired, but her joy couldn’t be held back: “I feel my purpose of coming here was to save her life.”

My intubated patient who has been squeezing my hand for the last several days finally was strong enough to get extubated. This morning I gave her her morning medications and when I told her I was leaving the room she shook her head no. I asked if she wanted me to stay longer and she nodded her head yes. I stayed in the room for 15 minutes just holding her hand. When it was time to extubate her this afternoon, she squeezed my hand the entire time. We successfully extubated her and placed her on BIPAP. A few short minutes later she mouthed her first words to me — I love you. My heart exploded. I started to sob in the room. Tears were running into my N95 mask as I stood there and held her hand. It was a beautiful moment. She repeated the words again this time stronger.

From Nursing@Simmons to a New York ER

Having just finished her last semester with Nursing@Simmons, Taylor was ready to begin her career as a family nurse practitioner. Her board exams were coming up and she already had an interview scheduled for a position at a hospital near her home in Rhode Island. Then the COVID-19 outbreak happened.

When both her board exam and interview were canceled due to the pandemic, she decided to use her newly freed-up time the best way she knew how — by serving others. “I just think it’s our job as nurses … we run toward danger.”

Because Taylor had recently finished the program, she says that classes and coursework were still fresh in her mind, which helped her quickly apply what she had learned to work in the coronavirus unit. “The education I got at Simmons pushed everything forward,” helping her question and evaluate aspects of her practice in new ways.

“I’m one of those nurses that always wants to be learning and educating myself so that I can better take care of my patients, and Simmons definitely helped me with that.” While Taylor says nothing could have prepared her for a global crisis, she believes the challenging Simmons curriculum helped her get to this point. “[The program] was tough. But because I worked so hard . . . it has helped me as a nurse, and I feel like it made me a better nurse.

Life in a Coronavirus Emergency Unit

In the unprecedented COVID-19 environment, a more clinical approach and innovative thinking were essential to Taylor’s success. Upon her arrival at Metropolitan Hospital, she said she and the other nurses had to build the unit themselves — “It only had beds. No medical equipment, no medicine, no nothing” — taking them a full 48 hours to set up.

While nurses typically communicate with patients and their family members to deliver the best possible care, neither types of communication were possible in the coronavirus unit. Intubation prevented her patients from talking, and family members were unable to visit and advocate on their behalf. Due to these difficult new circumstances, Taylor and other nurses have had to expand their roles as patient advocates, sometimes taking on the deeply personal roles of family members.

Because of this unique environment, as Taylor highlights in her Facebook post, she was still able to get to know her patients even though they couldn’t speak to her. This was also due to the sheer amount of time she and other nurses spent working during any one shift. Their days were full, stretching from 6:15 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, for 21 days straight.

Despite this hectic schedule, Taylor chose to extend her service at Metropolitan Hospital. “I just felt like there was more to be done.” But on day 21 — when her assignment was originally supposed to end — contract nurses were no longer needed. And just hours after that, Taylor’s patient was extubated. “I was still going to stay, but then when we extubated her. I just felt like my story was complete.

Simmons’ Response and Support

While Taylor was eager to serve and prepared to continue, her experience at Metropolitan Hospital was nonetheless physically and emotionally intense. Luckily, she had the support of her family and her boyfriend, as well as her Simmons classmates.

“Even throughout this time, when I went to New York, a lot of my classmates texted me or they reached out on Facebook saying ‘What you’re doing is so awesome, we’re supportive of you.’” Proud classmates, even those she didn’t know, were reposting her Facebook story and commending her work.

Taylor said that this type of support from the close community at Simmons was present throughout her time in the program. While studying for their boards, classmates stayed in touch and worked through questions together. She said that professors in the program went out of their way to stay after class or get on a Zoom meeting to go over course material. “I just had a great experience with Simmons,” she said. “The group of friends that I made, the support system that I have. I don’t think you can get that from just any program.”

Recently, the strength of Taylor’s experience at Simmons culminated in another milestone — passing her boards. Whether it was pushing herself to earn her MSN or being on the front lines in New York City, Taylor’s pure passion for the nursing profession and an inherent drive to help others is what has kept her going. “Even if you had the worst day the day before . . . we were there for a reason, we had a purpose . . . and off we went.”