Name: Bethanie Gentile
Position: Registered Nurse
Employer: Allegiance Health (Jackson, MI)
Summary: While attending Rivier College, Bethanie became immediately involved in a number of campus clubs and organizations, taking on leadership positions to generate change and make a difference on campus and in the community. As a transfer student and prior to coming to Rivier, Bethanie always knew she wanted to help those in need. She accomplished this goal by continually participating in community service projects offered to students. Although Bethanie was involved in many service projects for the Nashua community, her main interest was with Habitat for Humanity. Because of these experiences and her continued commitment to helping those in need Bethanie decided to postpone her job search and instead volunteer for one year for the Christian Appalachian Project doing home repair and new construction work .
What made you decide to become involved with Habitat for Humanity and how long did you volunteer for the organization?
When I first came to Rivier, I knew I wanted to become involved in campus activities particularly community service opportunities. I convinced a few of my suitemates to attend the first informational meeting for Habitat for Humanity with me and for me it seemed like a natural choice to become involved. One of my suitemates became interested as well in Habitat and we ended up doing three Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips together with Habitat for Humanity. I was involved with the Habitat club for a total of three years. I had the opportunity to volunteer for three separate ASB trips, two to Chattam County, NC and one to Flat Gap, Kentucky. The club also contributed to various projects going on in the Nashua community. For example, we assisted in the creation of educational pieces dealing with poverty and homelessness, a clothing drive, and various fundraising for different organizations.
Do you feel as though your involvement/experiences in organizations on and off campus helped you obtain your current position?
I definitely think it catches an employer’s eye when your resume includes information about the various volunteer organizations you have been involved with and various leadership roles you've held. Before I committed to a year of service in Kentucky, I was really nervous that volunteering and spending a year away from nursing would be a mark against me for employers. When I shared this with a person I respect they said to me "Do you really want to work for someone that won't hire you because you volunteered?" Since then, I've kept that philosophy. I want to work for an organization whose values align with my own. I have found this to be especially true about Allegiance Health. The organization is committed to helping the community and has won awards honoring their service.
Because I didn't have a lot of work experience, I really needed those experiences to set me apart from other applicants, which I think it did. It was great to be able to talk to potential employers about leadership roles and experiences on campus committees. My student government experience was especially great to discuss in interviews. I was able to speak knowledgeably about maintaining a budget, delegating work, organizing committees, being accountable, and other non-clinical skills that employers look for. My participation in those committees also helped to improve my interpersonal skills while becoming an effective communicator. I found employers definitely notice leadership experience on a resume and value applicants with leadership potential and drive.
Did your clinical rotations help you decide the hospital unit you would be most interested in working on?
I had a very set idea in my head prior to starting at Rivier of what my long term career goals were. I was sure that I wanted to specialize in Labor & Delivery and eventually go on to obtain my Nurse Practitioner license and then a Midwifery license. My clinical rotations definitely opened my eyes to the unlimited options you have as a nurse as far as where you want to go with your career. You can work in so many different places and fields, it’s almost overwhelming. Through my clinical rotations and my capstone experience, I discovered that I really enjoyed critical care nursing in the Emergency Department because of the fast-paced and ever changing environment. I had the opportunity to work with people of all different ages and backgrounds and it was never boring. My clinical rotations also helped me rule out several areas of nursing that wouldn’t interest me.
Given your current position is on the Medical Surgical unit, are you still planning on pursuing Midwifery in the future?
I love both the Emergency Department and the Labor and Delivery unit. I have thought a lot about going back to school for my Nurse Practitioner license and I am still open to specializing in Midwifery or Emergency Care. I believe I will have a better idea of what I want to do with my career in the future after I spend more time in the field.
When did you know a career in nursing was the right decision for you?
I always have such a hard time answering this question because I don’t have one specific moment that I can point to as my ‘ah-ha’ moment. I knew that I liked being in a hospital setting and I liked the people I met during my clinical rotations, but I’m not a picky person I like most things. I think it was when I was volunteering for Christian Appalachian Project and not doing nursing that I realized how much I missed being a nurse. I believe that is the closest I’ve come to the realization that nursing was and is right for me.
What type of services at the Career Development Center (CDC) did you utilize?
I used the CDC to help me with my resume. I created one for a class and my professor really liked it. Consequently, I thought my resume was good enough to use to start applying for nursing jobs. But I decided to have someone from the CDC take a look at and just help me fine tune it. After my resume was critiqued, I realized it needed a lot more work than I had originally thought. At first, I was kind of taken back, but as I began to make the suggested changes to my resume I realized how much more improved my resume looked. It was a lot of work re-writing my resume, but it was really beneficial to have the resource of the CDC available to me.
What job search techniques did you find most valuable (i.e. internships, networking, student activities/involvement, etc.)?
I think highlighting my student activities and volunteer service on my resume and in interviews was the most valuable technique I had. I didn’t have a lot of experience in the nursing field so I had to promote other strengths about myself that employers would like. The experiences I had on campus gave me the opportunity to hold leadership roles in the Student Government Association, on college committees and clubs. My volunteer service with Christian Appalachian Project not only allowed me to serve those in need but it gave me the experience and confidence to work successfully with people from different backgrounds and cultures.
What was your most important accomplishment while attending Rivier?
It’s hard to pinpoint one thing I did in the course of my three years at Riv and call it my most important accomplishment. There were three separate areas I really focused my attention on during my time at Riv, campus ministry/volunteering, Student Government Association, and academics. In each of those areas I had accomplishments that were important but were important to different people.
The one experience I value the most about Riv was being invited by a former professor a year after graduation to come back and speak to students about the rewards of volunteering and social justice issues. It was a direct reflection of all the hard work I had put in during my time at Riv to be asked to do that. It was great to be able to share my experiences with students and hopefully motivate them to get out and help in their communities and become involved in different social justice issues.
Based on your experiences, what advice would you give current students to be better prepared for their careers?
Be proactive about getting yourself ready for life after graduation. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of college life and think that you can just wait until after you’ve got your degree to start thinking about your next step. However, it’s the things you do while you’re in college that are going to help you earn that job. Start working on your resume now. Talk with people working in your chosen field. Get involved with different clubs or organizations to not only build up your resume but to support Riv’s mission of “transforming hearts and minds to serve the world”. My participation in service trips has completely changed the direction of my life. I can’t imagine where I would be now if I hadn’t chosen to get involved when I did. I may be a little biased on this one, but seriously consider a year of service after graduation. It can be so helpful in determining the next step in your career whether you know exactly what you want to do or you have no clue at all.