We’re tired of hearing the word “unprecedented,” but there’s really no replacement for it. The coronavirus pandemic has upended our lives in extraordinary ways, and the impact on our communities, the nation and the world will reverberate for months and years to come.

Even so, there’s work to be done – now more than ever – and Bethel University, its students and graduates have stepped up, especially in the field of health care.

Gabi Reinoehl, a Bethel junior working on her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), is a prime example.

“I work part-time as an aide in a local emergency department and we see COVID patients almost every day,” Reinoehl says. “In the peak of the outbreak, I was a screener at the front entrance, which was definitely an experience.”

Reinoehl admits she felt scared at times, but she feared less for her own health than that of her family, because of what she could potentially expose them to.

Becca Luzney, another junior BSN student who works as a part-time aide in a local hospital, also reports being initially anxious about getting the virus, but her anxiety lessened as more was learned about it.
“I knew I had to trust in God, and that my life is in his hands,” she says.

Luzney puts a positive spin on the pandemic turmoil she, Reinoehl and other Bethel nursing students have endured, realizing it will make them more skilled as health care professionals.

“It’s given me so much experience – not just living through a pandemic, but learning in the midst of it, increasing my knowledge while providing needed patient care,” Luzney says.

Taylor Freedline, RN, a 2020 Bethel nursing graduate, can also testify to the unique formative experiences the pandemic taught her.

“I distinctly remember my last hospital clinical rotation in March before all our coursework went online,” Freedline says. “I was helping gather supplies for a new COVID floor when a voice came over the intercom announcing that the first COVID admission had arrived.”

Despite significant disruptions to her academic plans, Freedline was able to complete her BSN degree – although she was disappointed about missing the traditional in-person pinning ceremony (the department did host one virtually). Since graduating, she passed the NCLEX (nursing board exam) and accepted a critical care position at a hospital near Bethel.

“I care for all kinds of people with severe health problems, including those on ventilators – like some suffering from COVID-19. The pandemic has taught me to have patience – as in the time it takes to don and doff COVID isolation gear.”

Taylor Freedline ’20

Patience has played a role in Freedline’s transition from student to staff nurse as well.

“I have to accept that I won’t know how to do everything in one day,” she says, “but I’m confident it’ll come with time and practice.”

Freedline is grateful she chose Bethel for her nursing education.

“It has always been in my heart to care for others, and Bethel prepared me to care for people holistically,” she says. “I am forever grateful for my experience at Bethel and how it shaped me into the nurse I am today.”

As one still being shaped for the profession, Reinoehl points to Bethel’s integration of faith and learning as decisive in her own pandemic response.

“I have been able to show God’s love through my care,” she says. “I pray for my patients and I truly empathize with them in a deep way.”

Reflecting on her experience, Reinoehl says, “It has been a tough road, but I know God has been with us for every second of it.”