At Cornerstone University, Lori DeWitt serves as the head of the nursing program. Recently, she shared her story of entering the nursing profession and reflected on opportunities you can have as a nurse in today’s society.
INTERVIEW WITH LORI DEWITT
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GO INTO NURSING?
DeWitt: “As a high school student, my favorite classes were anatomy and physiology, so I originally thought I would be a biology major. However, I had an aunt with multiple sclerosis who was in a nursing home, and I visited her a lot.
“Most people don’t like nursing homes, but I was always felt comfortable. I admired the nurses that took care of my aunt because she was immobile. I started helping her, and I was introduced to a nursing program, while I was a freshman college student.”
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES DO NURSING STUDENTS HAVE FOR A CAREER?
DeWitt: “As an intensive care nurse for 25 years, I watched the field of nursing change a lot and become extremely competitive.
“You look at who takes care of the people in the hospital—it’s the nurse. Because you are the eyes and ears of the doctor, like a co-partner, a nurse has to have a strong science background to understand the changes in patient care.
“A registered nurse is licensed to direct patient care. A bachelor’s degree prepares you to take a licensing exam and obtain jobs in hospitals, ambulatory and outpatient sites, physician offices, schools, extended care facilities, drug-rep companies, insurance companies with medical claims divisions and more.
“In general, you are likely to find someone working at least two years in the hospital on a general, medical or surgical floor to get some experience and see the different disease processes in adults.
“If you choose to get your master’s degree, you can become a nurse educator, a nurse practitioner or a clinical nurse specialist. And with a doctoral degree, the world is your oyster.”
HOW HAS YOUR ROLE AS A NURSE IMPACTED OTHERS?
DeWitt: “For me as a nurse in intensive care, I know families depended on us to be the communication liaison between family members and physicians. It was my responsibility to explain to the families what was happening during the patient care process.
“Nurses also teach. When the patients are ready to go home, they have to know how to change their dressing, take their medications and understand what their medications are for.”
HOW DO YOU THINK A CAREER IN NURSING PREPARES COLLEGE GRADUATES TO CHANGE THE WORLD?
DeWitt: “In any ‘change the world’ situation, you have to do it one person at a time. Nurses advocate for patients and stand up for them. You learn to become brave because you are with patients in all scenarios. You have to be calm and say what needs to be said.
“Nurses have to stand up against social injustice and health care injustice. As a Christian-based nurse, I’ve been educated to not just see a person as a disease, but a patient with learning issues, family issues or spiritual issues.
“In summary, nurses have opportunities to work with patients in high-stress situations. I’ve had a lot of young people try to commit suicide and were unsuccessful. I’ve met them in intensive care settings. And because of my Christian worldview, I’ve felt better prepared to deal with this stuff; I don’t know how I could do this job without being a Christian.”