"If You're Going to Serve People, Give It Your Best"

Dan Luthi ’13 is a full-time pediatric nurse—but when he’s not at the hospital, he’s still hard at work volunteering his nursing skills to serve victims of natural disasters through the Red Cross. He’s passionate about providing people what they need in challenging times, whether that’s good healthcare or a hug.

By Cherie Suonvieri '15, content specialist

February 16, 2021 | 9 a.m.

Dan Luthi, Bethel nursing graduate

Dan Luthi ’13 is a pediatric nurse at OSF HealthCare Children's Hospital of Illinois.

Dan Luthi pauses outside the door to his next patient’s room and sends up a silent prayer before entering. As a nurse in a pediatric intermediate care unit, Luthi cares for children with complex medical needs—so praying God will bless his interactions with each new patient has become a habit. “I ask that whatever is meant to happen today will happen,” Luthi says. “And that it would be for God’s glory.”

Patients typically find themselves in the pediatric intermediate care unit at OSF HealthCare Children's Hospital of Illinois when their condition doesn’t qualify for intensive care, but requires more attention than the general unit may be able to handle. “These might be patients with a tracheostomy or who are ventilator-dependent, for example. They’re patients who just need a little more monitoring,” Luthi says. Some patients are in Luthi’s unit after an operation, some are awaiting a clear diagnosis, but whatever their situation, he is passionate about serving the children and their families well.

Luthi’s decision to become a nurse can be traced back to when his father was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1998. He remembers watching nurses caring for his parents as his father endured treatment. “I realized how important nurses are and what a ministry it can be,” he says. After a six-year battle with cancer, Luthi’s father passed away in 2005 when he had a spontaneous cardiac arrest. His father’s death hit him hard. But five years after, Luthi decided it was time to further his education.

Though he was living in California at the time, Luthi found himself looking at Bethel. “I toured the campus, loved it, and thought it was the place to go,” he says. “I looked at other schools too, but in the end, Bethel gave me the best financial aid package. It felt like God’s way of saying that Bethel was where I was supposed to be.”

“You’re never truly alone as a nurse. You have a support system, and being at Bethel encouraged me to think along those lines.”

— Dan Luthi '13

Luthi says his time in the nursing program at Bethel uniquely equipped him for his career by showing him both what a Christ-centered community looks like and how that community translates into healthcare. “You’re never truly alone as a nurse. You have a support system, and being at Bethel encouraged me to think along those lines,” Luthi says. “You realize it’s not just Dan going out there as an ‘Indiana Jones nurse.’ It’s Dan with other people around him, and more importantly with God next to him.” 

As a nurse for OSF HealthCare Children's Hospital of Illinois—a Catholic institution, still rooted in its tradition of faith—Luthi is encouraged to pray with patients and their families if they express interest. Prayers are said every morning over the hospital PA system as well. “There are many rough situations that words can’t fix, but you don’t always have to say something. Just the fact that you’re being present with the families, it means a lot,” Luthi says. “And whether my patients know it or not, I’m usually always praying in my head, if not out loud, to invite God into that moment.”   

In addition to his service at the hosptial, Luthi volunteers with the American Red Cross Serving Illinois to help care for the health needs of those who’ve experienced a disaster. If, for example, an individual experiences a house fire, Luthi will talk with them over the phone to address any disaster-related medical needs, such as medication replacement, basic wound care, or referrals to the Red Cross's licensed disaster mental health professionals. “My role is to help clients and stand with them through their recovery, no matter what kind of disaster, whether it’s a fire, flood, earthquake, or tornado,” Luthi explains.

“God works in strange ways, and while I wouldn’t wish anything like that on anyone, it was very important for me to be there and feel like I was contributing in a small way—whether someone needed medical attention or a hug.”

— Dan Luthi '13
Luthi says he enjoys hospital work a lot, but he appreciates the way his work with the Red Cross allows him to use his nursing skills in an entirely different way. While his volunteer work touches a variety of communities across the country, one of his first service opportunities was closer to home. After graduating from Bethel in May 2013 and after completing his training to become a Red Cross nurse, a tornado struck his hometown in Washington, Illinois, destroying dozens of homes. He was able to put his skills to use right away at a local shelter based at a church in his neighborhood.

“I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was kind of a providential thing,” Luthi says. “God works in strange ways, and while I wouldn’t wish anything like that on anyone, it was very important for me to be there and feel like I was contributing in a small way—whether someone needed medical attention or a hug.”

In September 2020, Luthi was recognized as a recipient of the 2020 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for the state of Illinois. He’s been volunteering for the Red Cross for over seven years, serving 20-plus hours per week. In addition to consulting with disaster victims regarding their health needs, he also mentors new volunteers and serves as a resource for regional staff.

When asked why he gives so much of his time, serving both at the hospital and Red Cross, Luthi says that he can’t imagine not doing so. “As a Christ-follower, I would feel like I wasn’t giving my all if I wasn’t using my gifts completely to serve people,” he says. “I feel that my calling in life is to not go at things half-heartedly. If you’re going to do it, do it well. If you’re going to serve people, give it your best.”

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