October 21, 2014

Pediatric nurse turned teacher

When you ask Becky Toth why she chose pediatrics—the coursework she teaches at SVSU—she’ll tell you it was all about the diapers. 

In her senior year of nursing school, Toth worked at a community hospital, where she helped a lot of nursing home patients.  

“That’s when I decided: When I became a nurse, I wanted to change diapers by myself,” she said. “With kids, the diapers are smaller. That’s why I applied for pedatrics,” She laughed, “and I’ve loved it every second since.” 

Which says a lot, considering she’s been a pediatric nurse for 22 years. 

After graduating, Toth traveled to Arizona for a three-month nursing stint, before taking a job at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, where she worked from 1992 to 2012. 

While working with nursing students there, one of them told her, “You know, you’re really good at this teaching stuff.”  “And two months later, I was enrolled in my master’s program,” she said. 

Toth completed her master’s degree in December 2009 at Indiana Wesleyan, still working at Mott and teaching clinicals for the University of Michigan–Flint. In September 2010, she joined SVSU.

“I love it here,” she said. “The students are so great—they’re used to working for what they get. The attitude is so much different.” 

A student herself, Toth is completing her doctorate at the University of Michigan–Flint, anticipating graduation in April 2015. (Although SVSU now has a doctorate of nursing practice, “you can’t take your doctorate where you teach,” she said, laughing.

“My fellow faculty would also be my instructors, and that’s not right.”) So, life keeps her busy. Right now, Toth is taking four classes and teaching four more at SVSU. “If it weren’t for my husband, Brian, I couldn’t do all of this,” she said. “He cooks and cleans, does laundry—all that good stuff. He takes good care of me.”

The couple has been married for 20 years, and they have a 14-year old daughter, Dani. And beyond work and her family life, Toth also teaches Sunday school.

So, with a crowded schedule and an hourlong commute to work, Toth loves listening to audiobooks in the car—sometimes with CDs of lectures for a little extra reviewing.

It’s a love for learning that drives her.

“There is nothing better for me—especially in clinicals—when you watch a student trying to figure something out and you see that lightbulb go on, where they can put it all together for their patient.

That’s just the best thing in the world.”