National Nurses Week Profile: Dr. Nathan Heffington
Dr. Nathan Heffington, a graduate of the Anderson University College of Health Professions, works at Parkside Pediatrics, a large independent practice in Upstate South Carolina.
“Right now where I work, loving and serving people is at the center of that and faith is at the center of where I work. It’s a faith based practice,” Heffington said.
Heffington felt he was being led into a health care career when he and his wife Laura were at the hospital for the birth of their oldest daughter. Their interactions with hospital staff put them at ease and he imagined how daily they impact the lives of patients.
“Every day these nurses and doctors come to work and just intersect with people and chaos; they get to bring peace to that chaos,” Heffington said. “I just thought, that’s what I want to do.”
Completing his BSN and DNP program through the School of Nursing, Heffington felt he was trained well beyond just being able to diagnose problems and prescribe medicine.
“I always wanted to be a nurse practitioner. I wanted to be a provider; I knew that was the end goal, so there was a choice between doing a master’s and doing a doctorate,” Heffington said. “I was working full time as an RN at a pediatric emergency room at the time and just loved that job so much I didn’t mind staying in school for a while longer and to keep working there until I switched over to a provider role.”
Heffington’s professors at Anderson University helped him decide to move forward and complete his DNP, which he did. He appreciates their guidance and the Christian setting where his learning took place.
“In terms of being a leader and focusing on service and faith and being able to bring into that what I do medically… Had I been somewhere else, that piece wouldn’t have integrated into it,” Heffington said.
Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic was especially pivotal for Heffington. Becoming the medical lead at an outdoor clinic was one of those experiences he feels fell in line with God’s plan in leading him into health care. Heffington and his colleagues would start their day in a time of devotionals and prayer, preparing for long days of testing, examination and treatment that dragged on through the summer.
“We pulled through crazy days,” Heffington said. “It was so hot, we’re wrapped up in all this PPE (personal protective equipment) and being outside trying to see people in their cars. Even when we were hot and sweating, tying that directly into what God is doing in our lives was important to get us through and be reminded of the gospel daily.”
“It really changed in a lot of ways what I do every day. That set me up for further leadership opportunities within the company,” Heffington said.
As he and his colleagues at Parkside learned how to grapple with a pandemic, Heffington also appreciates his solid education from Anderson University when helping patients sort through misinformation spread through social media and other sources.
“What benefited me from doing the doctorate program is it’s very research based. You learn how to pick apart an article, not just read it, but know how the statistics were done and whether that was a good fit, what that really means as opposed to just a headline version of it,” Heffington said.