Accepting the major truth

Bethel University nursing majors feel the stress of the acceptance season, but they also remember why they are here in the first place.

By Madeline Koengeter | Royal Report

Sometimes it isn’t even the acceptance process that looms over Janet Gonzalez, Lily Pirila and other nursing students’ heads. Studying anatomy until their brains are fried and worrying about how hard the next chemistry exam will be — that’s only the beginning. What if they don’t quite make the cut? Will they transfer or switch majors? Give up all together? Although the job field is fairly secure, getting there is anything but easy.

Sophomore Janet Gonzalez hasn’t forgotten what she and many other incoming nursing students have been told: as nursing majors, they should devote their time to their studies and forget extracurriculars. It’s not in the syllabi, but students are advised to focus on getting in to the program. Yet most nursing majors are not quick to take that advice.

“A large part of the Nursing major is being fully dedicated to their studies, which means students don’t usually have back up plans.”

“I’m sorry. I want a life after I leave Bethel I don’t want to just have a degree,” Gonzalez said. “Nursing majors are, I think, really relational and for people. We like being involved in things.”

The nursing majors that Gonzalez sees show a heart of diligence, perseverance, and a desire to make a difference by helping people. Spending hours in the university library like their professors did simply does not allow for the “people aspect” to grow. At the same time, however, they also understand that they voluntarily apply to be in a program that combines faith, compassion, and science into one specific profession.

Due to the sensitivity of the cuts being made, percentages and numbers of people applying are not commonly shared. A large part of the Nursing major is being fully dedicated to their studies, which means students don’t usually have back up plans. They start with over one hundred, but end with only 90 students.


Dr. Linda Anderson | Bethel University Communications and Marketing

The Nursing Department Chair, Dr. Linda Anderson, only got to where she is today from hard work and the passion she has for public health and nursing. This passion alongside her desire to help students grow, makes helping struggling students easier. She understands that “you can’t get anywhere without a little struggle.”

She remembers watching sophomore students with their first health assessment struggling with taking blood pressure for the first time — seeing them so nervous that they did not pass the exam. Now she sees those same students flourishing under the stress of the program.

“[The stress] can help them excel, or if you don’t have enough support around you, it could be negative . . . but we only grow if there is a challenge,” Dr. Anderson said. “We’d like it to be reasonable, however.”


Another sophomore, Lily Pirila took that challenge before the acceptance letter came on Oct. 19. She is a marketing consultant for a club back home, a testing center proctor, a social mentor for the BUILD students, does intermural soccer and broomball, and still has time for friends. She simply doesn’t take the advice that advisors give to students.

“Sometimes you have to take time to stop studying and do something else,” said Pirila. Even if it hurts your grade a little bit, you gotta do it.”

For Pirila, the nursing program is a test of her perseverance. Long hours studying for anatomy tests and triple-checking assignment due dates shows that. Having that busy of a life, she can’t stop to think about the stress of balancing everything she does, but she reminds herself to keep her passion for people at the front.

“I think especially when people are in their vulnerable moments, [God] just shows up.”–Lily Pirila, Bethel nursing student

Pirila always had a heart for people, especially those she gets to work with one-on-one. This summer, Pirila worked at Brooke Manor Assisted Living in Brookston. She remembers how she felt while caring for a man with severe dementia.

“I think especially when people are in their vulnerable moments, [God] just shows up,” Pirila says. “And I can be there to show them God’s love. I think healthcare is lacking sometimes in the heart.”

It’s this combination of adaptation to stress and expectation to succeed that causes many to run low during this challenge.

Although it was stressful for her to search for the resident over in the ballpark across the street from Brooke Manor and help him with his daily cares, she knows that they need the help and she is willing to be there.

According to Gonzalez, freshman year is tough for many students as they figure out if they want to stay in the program or not. They all doubt their acceptance, worrying if they are average or excellent. It’s this combination of adaptation to stress and expectation to succeed that causes many to run low during this challenge. But with getting a job, strikes, and a balance between personal and professional, it may never truly be easy again.