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Taylor Rusk

Student Profile

dark haired woman playing basketball vs. dressed for nursing ceremony

Basketball, Nursing...and a Pandemic

"Everyone is having to adjust their norm through this pandemic," says Taylor Rusk.

What is Taylor Rusk's "norm"?  Basketball!  

The main reason Taylor decided to come to the University of Wyoming from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, was that she was recruited by the basketball coaches. But, "I had also heard [UW] had an excellent nursing program, so it was a perfect fit for me," says Rusk. "When I came to visit campus, I got to tour the area, the athletic facilities, and the nursing school...and really started to fall in love with the UW campus and the town of Laramie. I was so fortunate and blessed that both programs worked with me and allowed me to play my 4 years of basketball as well as pursue my nursing career."

It isn't easy to be in a sport AND in the nursing program, students and faculty will agree. Scheduling gets "pretty crazy" between games and clinicals; and in addition to that challenge, students need to be extremely organized to keep up on studies and grades. But Rusk and UW faculty and athletics made it work: "I had such a great basketball career," says Taylor, who was fortunate enough to finish the basketball season last March of 2020, right as the pandemic was making its presence felt in Laramie--"and am so thankful for all the UW coaches, teammates, and fans that made my experience what it was." And her career was special! The UW sports page noted that Rusk finished her career "as just the fifth Cowgirl with both 1,000 career points and 300 career assists." She was a leader on her team, and we think we'll see her be a leader in Nursing as well.

Nursing...and COVID

Rusk knew she wanted to pursue nursing since she was in high school. "I have loved science since I was young, and knew I was interested in healthcare. I wanted to help and serve others in my profession, so nursing was the perfect choice. The further I get into the program, the more excited I am about this career. I know I made the right decision."

Though Taylor was able to finish out her basketball season last March of 2020, Nursing was faced with a lot of changes that had to be made to the nursing curriculum due to the pandemic hitting Laramie and the UW campus. Taylor bemoans that fact, but saw the bright side: "We unfortunately got very limited clinical opportunities in this last year, but our professors did a great job adjusting and providing online experiences for us."

Change in attitude
...produces sense of gratitude

"It was definitely frustrating at first [in 2020]," says Rusk with a fresh memory, "especially thinking about actually starting my nursing career in the next year [2021] without as much clinical experience as the program would normally provide. I really had to take a step back and realize what the whole world is going through right now, and that everyone is having to adjust their norm through this pandemic. That change in attitude made me so much more grateful for the clinicals we DID get to have and to just take full advantage of learning in any clinical setting that I can.

"My heart is very heavy for all those who have lost their lives and loved ones during this pandemic. I really have had comfort through my faith during this time: it has been my rock during this time of uncertainty and unknown."

Senior Capstone Clinical

Wyoming hospitals have opened up to allow UW nursing students to complete their senior capstone practicum this spring semester of 2021, "Thankfully," says Rusk. She is on the Progressive Care Unit in a Wyoming hospital, "which is also currently being used as the COVID floor," Taylor notes. "I am so thankful for all that nurses do, especially during this time. They are so important to these patients, not just for their physical health, but also even more for emotional support."

"I am eager for all that I will learn this semester," says Taylor, "and to take that into my future career as a nurse."

Story placed: 2/8/2021

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