Otterbein SRNA Volunteers in NYC ICU for COVID-19

by | May 29, 2020 | In the Spotlight.

A Life-Changing Perspective

In April, Monica Arce ’21, a senior nurse anesthesia student in the Graduate Nursing program at Otterbein, volunteered to work in the fight against COVID-19 as a frontline ICU nurse in New York City. This is a brief reflection, in her own words, of her experience.

I am a senior SRNA at Otterbein who has been out of clinicals for the past couple months due to COVID-19 response.

I have always been someone who needs to serve and to use my skills to the best of my ability. In April, I volunteered to go to New York City to work as a frontline ICU nurse in the fight against COVID-19. It was very challenging mentally, physically and emotionally, working 21 long 12-hour shifts, with no days off.

The patients were the sickest people I have ever seen in the most chaotic and overwhelmed care. We were short-staffed, low on supplies and had minimal working equipment. We worked together to overcome challenges that healthcare workers should never have to face. I was honored to work alongside some of the bravest, most knowledgeable and inventive nurses I have ever met. We came from all over the country with one mission: to keep people alive and let no one die alone. Most nights that was all that we were capable of doing.

These were some of the worst nights of my life, but the generosity and gratefulness of the community kept us coming back shift after shift. My perspective of humanity has forever been changed. I have been humbled beyond words. I have cried more in the past month than I have in my entire life. I have held more hands and said more final goodbyes than most people do in a lifetime.

I am a different nurse and human because of this experience. I know that every day for the rest of my life I will be caring for someone. And I know that when I am needed, I will be there. Because that is what nurses do, we respond to the call.

We asked Arce if there was anything in her Otterbein experience that helped prepare her for what she experienced.

Aside from my classes and education, I have always been encouraged by my professors to seek out opportunities, to be a leader and to have grit. We are encouraged to live above the line, to strive to be all that we can be and to take ownership of what we do. Not only do they encourage us to be outgoing, to be leaders and to care for others, but they also teach us to care for ourselves.

The staff of my CRNA program has supported me through many things over the past couple of years. They have encouraged me and treated me like family. I feel blessed to be a part of Otterbein.

More Stories


We are committed to opportunity. Learn more at


We've been launching great futures since 1847. Learn more at


Otterbein 175th Anniversary