The answer is really simple for Bethany Whitney – she chose nursing because she likes to help people.
And working with people has been a part of her life for a long time. For 15 years, she has worked in the food service industry and currently manages a breakfast and lunch restaurant. Her original interest was to become a teacher, another career that helps people, and she originally started college with that goal in mind.
“Life got in the way, though, and I ended up leaving school before I finished,” she explained. “But I believe all things happen for a reason. A number of customers told me how great College of DuPage was and how all of the area hospitals really loved the nurses who graduated from the COD Nursing program.”
Whitney enrolled in Anatomy & Physiology and Speech classes and earned her Nursing degree four years later, graduating with highest honors. She also took two additional classes to earn a second degree, the Associate in General Studies.
“I learned so much in my time at COD that sometimes I wonder if my brain can hold much more,” she said. “My first year in the program exposed me to so many wonderful teachers. Everybody says how nursing is so hard and everybody is terrified when they first begin the program. Is it a lot of work? Yes. Is it impossible? No. You just need to be willing to put in the work. Every person that works in the Nursing department, including the staff in the lab, wants you to succeed.”
In addition to the instruction, Whitney was impressed with the hours of clinical experience. During her first year in the program, she clocked 264 hours of clinical time. She also liked the camaraderie of her fellow students, who helped each other out.
“You have a built-in support system when you start the Nursing program, because everybody is just as scared and freaked out as you are,” she said. “I made some great friends that I would not have otherwise met if it hadn't been for this program and COD.”
After obtaining her degree, Whitney passed the NCLEX-RN and began Loyola’s RN-to-BSN completion program. She made the Dean’s List every semester with a 4.0 on her way toward graduation. She has now completed her master’s degree and is working as a palliative care nurse practitioner with AMITA Health.
“At the end of the day, it’s the nurses who have the greatest impact on the patient’s care,” she said. “Doctors call the shots – no pun intended – but it’s the nurses who administer them. It’s the nurse’s job to care for that patient in every way, not just giving them their medicine and changing their bandages. The patients need somebody to advocate for them, and the nurses are the only ones who spend enough time with the patient to know what it is the patient needs. I truly hope to someday be able to ease a patient’s anxiety and help to turn a stressful and scary situation into one that is more manageable for that patient.”
Whitney knows she is well-prepared for her profession and hopes that others are inspired to discover their passion.
“At College of DuPage, your education really is there for the taking,” she said. “You just need to be willing to ask and have a desire to learn. Don’t ever be afraid to follow your dreams. It may not be easy, but if you take it one step at a time, one day at a time, you can get there.”