When Donna Bechthold, RN, had her first child in 1964, it was a life-changing experience. Not only had she instantly become a parent, but she also realized her dream of someday becoming a nurse.
“I had such a wonderful experience with the OB nurses,” recalled Donna. “I realized right then and there that I wanted to be that kind of nurse.”
Perhaps the best preparation for Donna’s future career was having three children by the time she was 21. Not only did she get a lot of exposure to obstetrical nurses, she also gained patience and compassion raising her daughters.
In 1974, Donna and her husband, Wayne, moved to Nashville where she started nursing school. Shortly after she graduated with her Associate of Science degree, Donna landed her first job as a nurse—in labor and delivery!
When a new career opportunity arose for Wayne—a clinical nursing instructor—in Florida, Donna worked as a floating nurse and gained valuable experience in a variety of specialties from the intensive care unit to medical surgical. Eventually, she found her way back to obstetrics and began what she describes as the perfect job for her at the time.
“I was certain I had achieved all my career goals with this job,” recalled Donna with a chuckle. “Not only was it my area of interest, but I was also working part-time on the day shift. The ability to work and still have the flexibility to spend time with my family was such a blessing.”
That flexibility is something that Donna encourages young people who are debating their career options to consider.
“Nursing is an ideal career choice if you plan to have a family,” asserted Donna. “You can work part-time or at night. There are just so many ways you can make your schedule work around your kids.”
Donna also stresses that there is no end of opportunities in the field. “Not only are there a vast array of clinical specialties available to nurses, you can choose to work in a hospital, a doctor’s office, a clinic, a law office or a school. Nurses can be teachers, executives, school nurses, public health workers … the opportunities and options are really almost endless.”
Donna went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in health-care administration and today serves as the vice president of patient care at Tillamook County General Hospital (TCGH) in Oregon, where she oversees the clinical aspects of the 49-bed facility. In addition to her operational duties, Donna is a mentor and cheerleader to the nursing staff and strives to provide an environment that fosters excellent patient care.
“I feel it is my responsibility to provide a positive, supportive environment for our nurses and give them the tools they need to enable them to deliver the best possible patient care,” said Donna.
Donna is also passionate about the distinctive mission of Adventist Health and the opportunities and responsibilities that come with working for a religious organization.
“Spiritual care is one of the most important aspects of my job,” said Donna. “It’s truly an honor to be able to serve the Lord and extend His healing ministry to our patients.”