Luke Pfitzinger, School of Nursing

Both of Luke Pfitzinger’s parents are graduates of the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing, and when it was his time to pick his own academic focus at Mizzou, he decided to follow in his parents’ footsteps.

To help cover his college expenses, Pfitzinger worked 80 hours per week as a firefighter and emergency medical technician for Boone County Fire District Station 8, where he lived while taking many of his classes asynchronously during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I like taking care of people and helping others, and that played a big part in me wanting to be a nurse,” Pfitzinger said. “When responding to 9-1-1 calls, I liked how the problem-solving aspect of each situation is unique. Figuring things out on the fly under high stress has definitely helped prepare me for my career as a nurse.”

Pfitzinger now works as a nurse in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at MU Health Care, assisting patients who have suffered traumatic injuries, including fractured ribs, broken bones, punctures and lacerations.

“I definitely benefitted from the simulations lab and all the high-tech mannequins in the new nursing building during my undergraduate career at Mizzou,” Pfitzinger said. “Being able to simulate actual care scenarios played a big part in my knowledge and success as I started my career as a nurse.”

Pfitzinger credits the nursing school’s faculty members, particularly Sherri Ulbrich, Meghan Coburn Brocco and Jessica Peuterbaugh, for their combination of professionalism and empathy.

“The faculty were really good at helping me make sense of things I was learning for the first time,” he said. “They were great teachers and mentors to me.”

Pfitzinger also credits the connection between the Sinclair School of Nursing and University Hospital — an academic teaching hospital and Level I trauma center — for allowing him to familiarize himself with his surroundings, the software programs used to complete various tasks, and the logistics of understanding how complex documentation and charting systems work for such a massive organization.

“Having already done clinicals through University Hospital during my undergraduate career, it definitely made the transition to my current career smoother knowing where things are and how they work,” he said.

Above all, Pfitzinger said one of the most important lessons he learned through the Sinclair School of Nursing is the value of family-centered care.

“One of the biggest things I learned is building relationships with not just the patients but also their family members, who are obviously concerned for their loved ones and all the anxiety that comes with that,” Pfitzinger said. “Seeing patients make progress over time and seeing how gracious their family members are is gratifying. Regardless of where I end up in the future, I know I’ll find success thanks to my time at MU.”