Luke Pfitzinger – Graduate Spotlight

Pfitzinger, a Mizzou Nursing legacy, volunteer firefighter, EMT and Columbia local, plans to stay with the University of Missouri Hospital after commencement.

Luke Pfitzinger, MU Sinclair School of Nursing composite photo.

My name is Luke Pfitzinger and I am a May 2023 graduate of the Sinclair School of Nursing’s (SSON) traditional BSN program. I am also a legacy student here at the SSON. My parents met here 31 years ago and graduated with the May Class of 1994. Fast forward three decades and both of them have continued to work within the profession and raise three boys. I am the oldest. My middle brother is also a senior this year and graduating high school. He is considering coming to the SSON as well in pursuit of a nursing career.  

I initially never planned on going to college after graduating from Rock Bridge High School. I had no attraction to any career that would require a college education. That would soon change when I joined the Boone County Fire Protection District (BCFPD) in the fall of my senior year of high school. I moved out of my parents’ home shortly after and into Station 8 with the BCFPD Residency Program, where I have served while finishing both my high school and college education. It was with the BCFPD I found a passion for emergency medicine and serving others in their time of crisis. I must accredit a lot of this passion and my EMS training to BCFPD Assistant Chief Bryant Gladney, who was unfortunately killed in the line of duty on December 22, 2021. 

After exposure to the Fire/EMS world and much consultation with my family, primarily my father who is a first-generation college graduate, I decided to enroll pre-nursing at Mizzou. I chose nursing because of the opportunities the profession has to offer in terms of fields/specialties to work in. One of which I found a strong interest in due to my newly founded EMS background is flight nursing. Therefore, I began my pre-nursing courses at Mizzou in the fall of 2019 with the support of my family and the dream to become a flight nurse, so that I may continue my passion of working in EMS and providing pre-hospital care.  

Since then, I have balanced my life as a full-time student, employee and volunteer Firefighter/EMT. There were many times I struggled to keep up in school or showed up to exams sleep deprived, famished and barely passed. A few I even failed. However, if I had to do it all over again, I would. Despite adversity, I have been able to perform academically well enough to graduate magna cum laude. I have been blessed with a very supportive family and gained a new one within the firehouse. I remember many homework assignments asking for help from my best friend, a scholarly paramedic I lived with at Station 8. I must also give thanks to the friends I have made within the SSON and sticking it out with me through the highs and lows. The faculty have been very professional and helpful as well to fostering my success.

After graduation, I will be starting my nursing career in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) at University of Missouri Hospital. I completed my practicum here and developed a strong liking to the teamwork and care this unit provides. I plan to spend several years here gaining my critical care experience and license so that I may one day achieve my pursuit of flight nursing. I am grateful for my time here at Mizzou and the opportunity I had to attend class in both the old SSON where parents attended and our brand new school. I am excited to continue my family’s legacy in the nursing profession and in critical care.

– Luke Pfitzinger

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