Compassionate careDecember 21, 2016
Dr. Nancy Deitchman doesn’t count her greatest professional successes by the number of years she has served as president of the Texas State Board of Chiropractic Examiners, or her more than 25 years in private practice as a rehabilitative medicine specialist.
The stories of glory she tells are about her students at Dallas Nursing Institute—the odds they overcame to walk across the stage at graduation, and the steps she took to help them get there.
“Some of our students didn’t have the highest GPAs from other schools, or may have encountered obstacles in learning. They may have come from hard situations and had more challenges than the average student. But as a result, they work harder and are the most dedicated group of individuals I have ever met,” says Dr. Deitchman, a professor of pathophysiology and anatomy at DNI. “That’s why I’ve been at DNI for seven years and why most of the staff has been here for even longer. DNI is special. It’s our home.”
One of the things she tries to teach her students is that real lives are on the line every minute they are on the job.
“By the time students are done with my classes, they must have heard 100 times, ‘And if you don’t know this, your patient will not survive’,” says Dr. Deitchman. “The first day of class, it’s typically all about them and earning that A. By the end of the class, they understand that it’s all about the patient.”
That transformation epitomizes the DNI difference.
Dr. Deitchman, a Pittsburgh native who earned a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University and doctor of chiropractic degree from National Health Sciences University, says part of what makes DNI students such compassionate caregivers is their ability to empathize with their patients.
“Our students really do see a lot of patients in the worst conditions—state hospitals, and nursing homes that are often understaffed,” says Dr. Deitchman, who is also board certified in both orthopedics and rehabilitative medicine. “And yet, our students get compliments from the nursing staff of these facilities all the time saying they go above and beyond superior nursing skills to care for the whole patient.”
Every student has a different journey to get to that place, and Dr. Deitchman feels personally responsible to help them get there.
“A few weeks ago I gave an exam and the class did incredibly well. In fact, the class average was higher than any other group who had taken that exam previously. I sent out a message telling them how proud I was of their accomplishment and encouraged everyone to stay focused,” she recalls, telling how one of those students wrote back and said, “Even though I didn’t pass this test, you’re a great teacher. Your class is so enjoyable. I now know where my problem areas are and am determined to do better.”
Dr. Deitchman offered to give that student extra tutoring via Skype, working during the week and even over the weekends. On the next test, she earned a B.
“My greatest achievements are to see students who were struggling overcome their obstacles and walk across the stage at graduation,” she says, adding: “On that day, they very often thank the instructors for pushing them and having faith in them. They tell me they never would have made it without my constant encouragement. I take great pride in that.”
She also takes pride in DNI’s approach to admitting students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. They are not always the ones with the highest pre-nursing test scores, but they are the ones with the most potential.
“Our students’ passing rates are just as good if not better than the schools who only take the 4.0 students,” Dr. Deitchman says. “That tells you that DNI is doing a great job evaluating who will really be good nurses. Our students go beyond superior nursing skills. They approach health care with empathy and compassion, and that’s what makes them so successful.”