By Alexandria Kobryn
When one thinks of nursing as a profession, a PhD isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but it might be soon. Lorraine Robbins, associate professor in the College of Nursing at Michigan State University, knows the importance of higher education in any setting, but she feels particularly strong about nursing.
“With increasing education, there are greater opportunities in nursing,” she said.
Robbins began her higher education journey at Pennsylvania State University in Hershey, Pa. where she earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing. For years after, she worked in hospitals in the Washington D.C. area, but she began to feel as though working in hospitals was not enough for her.
Robbins went to Atlanta, Ga. where she entered a family nurse practitioner program at Emory University. She eventually accepted a faculty position back at Penn State.
“A lot of my time was spent with undergraduate nursing students in the Hershey Medical Center,” said Robbins. “I decided to further my education again and I enrolled in a nursing education PhD program at Widener University in Chester, Pa.”
Robbins started a doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While there, Robbins completed a post-master’s as a pediatric nurse practitioner, focusing on the physical activity of adolescents.
“I was really interested in other opportunities and just expanding my education because I didn’t want things to be routine. I always felt I needed to do more to progress in my career,” said Robbins. “When I went to the University of Michigan, I became really interested in health promotion and assisting adolescents in increasing their physical activity.”
Her interest in adolescent physical health also stemmed from having her own children.
“[My children] are very sports-oriented,” she said. “I noticed that their classmates weren’t very active and I realized that something really needed to be done to help increase their participation.”
Currently at MSU’s College of Nursing, Robbins teaches master’s and doctoral level courses like professional role development for nurses, research courses and research translation.
During the past few years, Robbins has focused on running programs within the Lansing School District that help increase the physical activity of girls between the ages of 11 and 14.
“[The program] involves an after school physical activity program three days a week. They also meet with a health professional to talk about their barriers and issues and how they can increase their physical activity,” said Robbins. “They complete a tailored computer program giving them strategies for increasing their physical activity.”
Like with any profession, there are aspects of the job that she loves, as well as ones that she doesn’t enjoy quite as much.
“I wish I had more time. I work an average of 50 hours a week. It’s because of the need to juggle various responsibilities,” said Robbins. “For example, service-related responsibilities plus the teaching and the research. It’s very demanding.”