On weekdays, Christina Roth-Vyhnal, MSN, RN, ACCNS-AG, is a nursing recruiter in the Office of Admission at Hiram College. She made the transition to higher education after working for 10 years as a full-time intensive care nurse. The goal: to help teach the next generation of nurses.  

Finding every day a little different 

When she first came to Hiram, Roth-Vyhnal split her time teaching skills in the simulation lab and recruiting students to enroll in the College’s nursing program. Since then, she has transitioned to a full-time recruitment role and it’s one that keeps her busy. On any given day, she could be communicating with prospective students and families, reviewing applications for admission, and answering questions about the admission process and applicant requirements.  

For Roth-Vyhnal, building a connection with students and families is what she enjoys most about her work as a recruiter, but things have looked a little different the past few weeks with the rise of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Office of Admission at Hiram has transitioned all campus visits to a virtual format. To keep connected and ensure her students still have a great admission experience, Roth-Vyhnal has established a weekly check-in with each of her students. Over the past few weeks, the conversations have become more than about the admission process––she’s learning about all the creative ways her students are trying to stay active or learn new things during this time. One student is learning to play the ukulele, another is learning to cook, and others are just enjoying the extra time with family.  

Providing the best care for patients 

Weekends, however, look quite different for Roth-Vyhnal. On Saturdays and Sundays, she still works as a critical care nurse in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. Right now, the unit is a designated coronavirus (COVID-19) unit and the staff is caring for very sick patients diagnosed with the virus. 

When asked what it means to be a frontline worker during a time like this, Roth-Vyhnal used three words to describe the experience: sacrifice, teamwork, and support. Being a nurse is not just a job for her, she describes it as part of who she is. When on the clock, she often spends an entire 12-hour shift caring for a critically ill patient, with limited opportunity for a break.  

“If a patient has made it to the ICU, they are very sick,” said Roth-Vyhnal. “We spend most of our days in personal protective equipment, wearing masks that leave marks on our face and ears sore. When a patient is not doing well, everyone pitches in to help, however it is very difficult to see a patient needing immediate assistance and not being able to run into the room without putting on personal protective equipment (PPE) first.” 

One of the biggest sacrifices that Roth-Vyhnal has had to make was to isolate herself away from her children and family for their safety during the pandemic.  

“There was never any question for me, that if I needed to help take care of COVID patients, I would. It has been very difficult to be away from my family, but we stay connected through text and FaceTime. Having my daughter ask when she can come home is the hardest question, and I do not have an answer for her,” she said. 

At the end of the day, the support she receives from her family and friends that reach out makes a difference, especially on the hard days.  

“Having the support of my family and friends during this time really means a lot to me,” said Roth-Vyhnal. “My Hiram family sends messages on the days that I work at the hospital, just to let me know they are thinking about me and hope I am staying safe. It really makes a difference.”  

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