Healthcare hero: A profile of a Great Falls College MSU nursing graduate who is working on the front line.
Bethany Evans - Registered Nurse at Benefis Health System’s Intensive Care Unit
Great Falls College Communications
Bethany Evans never could have anticipated what her first year working in Benefis Health System's Intensive Care Unit would bring after graduating from Great Falls College MSU's registered nurse program.
Nobody could have.
The pandemic created by the novel coronavirus has brought challenges and raised questions of the global medical community.
"While caring for these patients was very educational, it was also very sobering," said Evans, who is an intern until she passes her National Council Licensure Examination. "Due to the 'no-vistors' policy during the pandemic, these patients did not have family members around them to hold their hands and encourage them to keep fighting. The only forms of communication were Facetiming with the unit iPad or holding the phone up to our patients' ear so that they could at least hear the familiar voice of a family member. Some survived, and sadly some passed away."
It was difficult.
So, too, was the toll on health care providers the world over as they dealt with projected shortages of ventilators and personal protective equipment.
"I am so proud of our graduates and all health care workers who have demonstrated in these unprecedented times an uncommon heroism," said Great Falls College nursing program director Lauren Swant. They all have gone above and beyond, and it makes me so proud of this profession."
In Montana and Great Falls, the battle to flatten the curve to help the medical community has been successful thus far, so the medical community has not been overwhelmed, but Evans said it still has been a difficult time.
"It's pretty isolating," she said. "To minimize exposure, the time to provide care is limited, and you try to make only necessary trips into the room, making sure that you have all the supplies you need to provide care and administer medications. We were gloved, gowned up and wearing a N-95 mask, goggles, face shield and shoe covers. We also changed into scrubs that were laundered at the hospital to prevent us from taking the virus home on our clothes."
She said she was never nervous or had doubts about working with COVID-19 patients.
"No, I feel as though we have the equipment that we need to stay protected," she said. "Fortunately, we were not hit hard in Cascade County so we never had the overwhelming numbers like the hotspots had."
It was tough to see the patients struggling.
"Some of the patients required mechanical ventilation and were sedated so that they could tolerate the discomfort of the endotracheal tube down their throats, and the unnatural feeling of a machine filling your lungs with air," she said. "We also positioned patients on their stomachs as this position allows the lungs to open for better oxygenation."
While her first year was unlike anything she ever could have anticipated, she said she has no regrets about her career choice.
"I don't know if anything ever could give me a second thought about working in health care," Evans said. "The more I learn, the more I want to learn. There was no 'magical moment' that steered me in the direction of nursing. I kind of always knew that nursing was what I wanted, and it's just part of life at this point. Perhaps one of my favorite parts."
Swant emphasized how gratifying it can be to know you are helping your community.
"I can't encourage those who are seeking a nursing career enough," Swant said. "It is hard work, but there is nothing more rewarding than helping people in the toughest times, knowing you made a difference."
The deadline to apply for Great Falls College MSU's nursing programs is Friday. Apply for the registered nursing program HERE and the licensed practical nurse program HERE.
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