MISHAWAKA—As COVID-19 cases in St. Joseph County continue to rise and keep the county in the state’s orange risk level, cases at Bethel have gone down since the university implemented its own orange-level modifications on Nov. 6. To maintain this downward trend, Student Life announced on Nov. 13 that Bethel will continue operating with these modifications through the end of the semester.
One area of education that has been especially affected by the pandemic is the Nursing Department. Dean of Nursing Deborah Gillum, Ph.D., said they have had some difficulties with clinicals.
“We have had them in the hospital and the clinical settings as much as possible, but some clinical locations that we are using have had some issues with [COVID-19],” Gillum said. “There have been some situations where we’ve had to pull students out in order to keep them safe.”
Gillum said that while the students are not caring for COVID-19 patients, it has been difficult for students and faculty alike to adjust to the constantly changing landscape.
“Three of our words that we started the semester with was patience, flexibility and grace,” Gillum said. “As we have constantly had to make adjustments and changes in order to help the students meet their student learning outcomes, the faculty and the students are constantly reminded of those three words.”
Gillum also tries to look on the bright side, and she said that these students have the unique advantage of living through an experience that, for previous graduates and even the nursing faculty, was only theoretical.
“The opportunity that they are actually learning real-time what community and population health look like during the time of a pandemic is phenomenal,” Gillum said.
Gillum encouraged students currently enrolled to come together and support each other as a community.
“We are all in this together,” Gillum said. “Using patience, grace, and flexibility, we will get them through the nursing program and do our very best to keep them safe and to turn them into great Bethel grads.”
Gillum also said that, for non-nursing students, one of the most helpful things they can do to encourage their nursing major peers is to follow the current COVID-19 guidelines.
“The hospitals right now are full, they are over capacity, there aren’t enough nurses to take care of everybody,” Gillum said. “Whatever we can do to slow the spread so there aren’t as many patients that have to go to the hospital is going to help everyone.”
Gillum encouraged students to realize that everyone plays an active role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and said she hopes they will take their roles seriously.