BFFs follow same path to nursing

Class of 2013 Success Stories
RN-BSN degree is reality for lifelong friends


by Julie Carle

Lifelong friends Tiffany Nagel and Jena Aichholz have a new milestone to celebrate together. As of May 3, they both have earned their Registered Nurse-Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees from BGSU's College of Health and Human Services.

They have known one another since elementary school, but became best friends in junior high school in Attica, Ohio. Since then they have shared secrets, laughs and tears; attended proms, homecomings and Friday night football games. They played softball on the same teams and cheered on one another for the sports that they didn't play together.

Early in their high school years, both women suffered significant losses when family members passed away. While those two years were emotionally difficult, Aichholz and Nagel agreed that having a friend who understood eased the pain and forever changed the course of their friendship.

"We realized that friendship pulls you through some tough times and by having that person by your side makes us stronger," Nagel said.

" was so much easier having Jena with me along the way; we had the same point of reference and could help each other with projects and papers"Not only did they come to realize the strength of their friendship, they also discovered that they both had a desire to help people. They recalled talking about their shared dream to maybe one day become nurses and demonstrate the kind of care they had witnessed when their family members were hospitalized.

Since that time, Aichholz and Nagel have been on the same path, side-by-side, pursuing the goal of becoming nurses. They started after their junior year in high school by studying to become nurse's aids. They worked at the same nursing home and then moved to work as in-home health aids for the same company.

"By that point, we loved what we were doing and knew we wanted to continue," said Aichholz. They enrolled in the nursing program at Owens Community College where they registered for the many of the same classes, and drove together to campus and clinical assignments.

While working toward their associate degrees they learned about BGSU's RN-BSN degree and how easy it would be to add that to their accomplishments. They met with Eric Gullufsen, advisor and nursing coordinator for the BGSU program, who "helped make the transfer seamless," according to Aichholz.

"We were advised to take classes that would transfer and do double-duty toward our BSN, which left us with one year of online classes to complete the requirements," Nagel said.

"Though I worried about taking the classes online, it worked well. The classes and the teachers were good," she said, adding, ""I've recommended the program to many other nurses."

"I liked it because we could continue working," Aichholz said. "We were both working at Tiffin Mercy (Hospital), studying for our BSN and not getting much sleep," she joked.

"But it was so much easier having Jena with me along the way; we had the same point of reference and could help each other with projects and papers," Nagel said. "We knew we could call on each other, and we knew each other's strengths and weaknesses."

"I was better at OB (obstetrics) classes, pathology and math, and she was better at med-surg (medical surgery) and test taking," Nagel continued.

Beyond nursing school, they have continued that familiar routine of helping one another out, working the same floor and most of the same shifts at the same hospital.

"I know our friendship is strong; I am sure when we are 80, we will look back and think about all the things we have gone through together. I know we will grow old and gray together," Nagel said.

Updated: 01/23/2018 08:56AM