Bethel Nursing: A Tradition of Rigor

A closer look at Bethel’s nursing program and what it takes to earn a spot in the select 90.

Bri Shaw | Features Reporter

Sophomore nursing major, Callie Guimont, held her breath. She had been waiting for this moment. Sitting in her bed, she carefully opened up the letter and began reading. She finally exhaled. Callie was one of 90 students who had earned a position in the nursing program. Immediately, Guimont called her sister and told her the good news.

“(My sister) got really excited and started yelling over the phone,” said Guimont. “Then I told my parents by adding a Google calendar event for the white coat ceremony.”

Receiving that letter came with a lot of hard work for Guimont. Before being considered for the program, all nursing students are required to meet certain standards. Found easily in the Bethel catalogue, the criteria include the following: having sophomore standing, earning a C- or higher in all prerequisite science courses, maintaining a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher and being recommended by at least two people outside of the nursing program.

Once nursing students meet the requirements, the admissions committee begins their work. Space is limited in the department. The resources for the program only accommodate 90 students, so they choose carefully with a lot of prayer and consideration.

But even after receiving the letter of acceptance, there is still work to be done.

“(The letter is) a list of those things they still need to do,” nursing professor Linda Anderson said. “They’re really kind of contingent upon completing everything (in their current) semester.”

If the nursing students are able to successfully finish their fall semester, they receive another letter in January saying that they’re officially accepted into the program.

The nursing students’ hard work doesn’t stop there. In order to continue their nursing training at Bethel, the students must earn a C or higher in all their nursing courses, complete half the credits for Nursing residency and keep a consistent GPA of at least 2.75 in their major.

“The (emphasis) is the time in class, the expectation of test average and also (knowing that we) need to know all this post-college,” senior nursing student Anna Carlsen said. “We’ll be caring for people’s lives.”

Yet at the end of the day, there are only 90 spots that can be filled. The circumstances differ for those who didn’t make it in, but there are still other opportunities and paths they can follow as well. Former nursing students get the help and direction with the “Moving the Needle” program.

“It’s a university wide initiative for any students in a pre-professional program that you have to apply for,” Anderson said. “If you don’t get into it, what we do is try and create pathways through (other) majors so if something doesn’t work, you’re able to move to a different major and still graduate in four years.”

Some students re-apply for the next year, and others work with the Office of Career Development and Calling to choose a different path. Some common paths that former nursing students take are majors in social work, psychology or ministry. While there are resources on campus to help, changing majors and finding other paths isn’t easy.

“It does not define you and, as stupid and cheesy as it may sound, God does have a path for you. But that’s sometimes hard for us to understand and realize,” Carlsen said. “It’s easy for me to say on the other side of it, but it truly isn’t the end of the world if you don’t get in.”

Nursing is a difficult program, but the nursing department itself is taking action to make the academic life of a freshman nursing major more essential. The department is reconfiguring the layout of classes for next fall semester, so instead of taking biology and chemistry labs their first semester, they’re splitting it up. Next year, freshmen will take biology in the fall and chemistry in the spring.

“We don’t want to scare away students who could potentially be really good nurses by throwing them into the two lab sciences their first semester,” Anderson said. “(We’re) hoping to find that restructuring and redefining focus will really make it so students who are meant to be nurses are being successful.”

As the nursing department makes changes, the emphasis on a rigorous academic program remains a priority.

“It’s really a marriage of those two pieces: you have to be strong in the caring of the art of nursing,” Anderson said. “But you have to be strong in understanding the science in nursing together.”