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AU News

DNP Student: Quality Patient Care Goes Beyond Meeting Physical Needs

June 21, 2021
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Heather Dewitz chose Anderson University's DNP program because, to her, patient care involves meeting people's spiritual needs, too.

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The physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people are foundational to Heather Dewitz’s approach to nursing. 

Dewitz graduated from Anderson University’s Master of Science in Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner programs and is currently working on her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree with the goal of graduating this August. 

“My passion is education. I got part-time jobs with USC Upstate and Anderson University doing some nursing education on the side and I just fell in love with it,” Dewitz said. “The driving force for obtaining my DNP was mainly to serve in a full-time capacity for that job with a doctorate, then I would be able to teach master’s level with my doctorate.” 

Dewitz feels that her Anderson University education is preparing her well as she looks to advance her career in nurse education. She currently teaches nursing students the fundamentals at USC Upstate. Having her DNP will open the doors for Dewitz to be able to teach at the master’s level.

“I call them my baby nurses because they are first-semester nursing students. You’re introducing these students to the entire world of nursing,” Dewitz said. “You get to really talk to them about building rapport and you get to the basics of nursing, but I think more of it is teaching them how to be professional and how to communicate and treat people with respect, a lot of those concepts you have to build on in nursing school.”

When she’s not teaching, Dewitz is a nurse practitioner at a holistic health medical spa, treating patients with an approach that encompasses patients’ physical, emotional and spiritual care.

“I love to care for people; I feel like that’s a calling on my life whether it’s through nursing or ministering in church,” she said. 

When Dewitz was in high school, her mother had breast cancer. During that time she gained an appreciation for the nurses and other medical professionals involved in her mom’s treatment and felt led to pursue a nursing career. 

“I feel it’s been a calling on my life probably since I was a junior and senior in high school. It’s just kind of grown and evolved, and layers have been added to it as I change seasons of life,” Dewitz said.

“I love Anderson because they teach the Christian worldview of nursing … not just how to care for this patient, how to get them through this acute phase of illness, they teach how we care for them emotionally, physically and spiritually as well. I still like that all-encompassing, holistic mindset that illness is not just physical. It really opened my eyes,” Dewitz said. “A lot of programs just don’t look at the whole person, they’re just looking at the physical. I think that’s where Anderson differs in preparing nurses.”

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