Abigail Vetter, assistant professor of practice in the NDSU School of Nursing, was named North Dakota Nurse Educator of the Year. She received the honor from the North Dakota Nursing Students’ Association at the group’s annual convention held January 25-27 in Dickinson, North Dakota.
Vetter took an unconventional path to a nursing career. She began her professional life as an environmental engineer pursuing space studies. After having a family that included a daughter with a rare genetic condition who needed specialized medical care, her goals were redefined.
“I watched the interdisciplinary team join together to help her, and it soon dawned on me that I wanted to be part of that team – to make a difference to a child and a family at a time that they needed that help the most,” said Vetter.
Before Vetter began her nursing studies, her daughter Caroline passed away. After taking time to grieve and focus on family, she launched her studies and nursing career, centering on helping children and their families. As a board certified, acute care pediatric nurse practitioner, she continues her practice while teaching nursing students.
Nursing student Samantha Maciej said students benefit. “She is approachable, takes the time to get to know her students, and finds what works best for each individual,” said Maciej.
Abigail Kramer, a recent NDSU nursing graduate now working in Fargo, calls Vetter a special kind of educator. “She utilizes her role as a provider to share core information about current nursing care and the most up-to-date, evidence-based practice with students.”
Current nursing student Gabriel Eronmosele, summarized Vetter’s contributions. “She facilitated conversations about teen suicide, vaccinations, cultural competence and other timely topics into our classes, equipping us to be better real-life nurses.”
“Abigail teaches students lessons that books don't offer,” said NDSU nursing student Lauren Gietzen. “She is an inspiration to many, and reminds students that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible if you believe and set goals for yourself.”
Vetter said she once thought her career would involve pursuing stars in outer space as an environmental engineer.
“Now I know those stars to be the men and women who are supporting the healthy, the ailing, the newly born, and the dying. They stand watch at all hours of the day and night experiencing that journey, providing comfort, peace, and guidance,” said Vetter. “Being a small part of the education of those stars and assisting them to reach their fullest potential is a significant part of my life’s journey. For that, and the little girl that helped me get there, I will be forever grateful.”
The NDSU School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions provides bachelor’s and graduate nursing education to advance knowledge of nursing, demonstrate leadership, and meet the needs of a diverse society. Programs are available for part- and full-time students, working professionals and those seeking online educational opportunities.
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