Grad School Q & A: Corrie Swartzendruber ’09, earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at University of Iowa

Corrie Swartzendruber is an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner in the University of Iowa’s department of anesthesia and Family Nurse Practitioner. She is a 2009 graduate of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), where she studied nursing and minored in business and Spanish. She then received a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in 2016 from the University of Iowa.

Describe your research at the University of Iowa.

For my doctoral program, my defense was on screening for adverse childhood events (ACE) in primary care. My DNP defense sought to see if screening for ACEs in primary care would increase provider awareness of trauma and lead to increased referrals for patients to receive trauma sensitive care.

Currently I am working at the University of Iowa with the department of anesthesia but looking to get back into family practice part-time within the community where I reside.

How did your academic studies and professors at EMU prepare you for your graduate studies/current work?

The nursing program at EMU prepared me in so many ways to take on my graduate work. The classroom work was focused and help establish my foundation from which I grew my nursing career and education. Beyond the classroom, I remember sitting in Professor Ann Hershberger’s community health class and discussing the health disparities in our community. I think this gave me a heart for rural health and my favorite clinical in graduate school were not at fancy medical clinics but at rural one-provider clinics because there people trust you and respect what you do. It is in those communities where you develop relationships and I think this reflects what it was that I began to learn about at EMU.

What do you think made your application to graduate school stand out among others?

I think one of the factors that made me stand out was how well rounded my studies at EMU were. Beyond the nursing focus, EMU allowed me to spend time on cross-cultural study learning within a community about their needs and gaining perspective from the inside rather than being from the outside looking in. I think this also reflects how EMU prepared me for my current career. So much of healthcare is understanding and meeting people where they are, a perspective which EMU fostered.

What attracted you to attend EMU as an undergraduate?

First and foremost I think I was attracted to EMU because I wanted time to spend away from everything I knew as home and grow and develop. I started as a business major and transitioned to nursing my sophomore year. While the nursing program didn’t initially attract me to EMU, once I was there and saw how strong and solid the program was, it was definitely a selling point.

What are some favorite memories of your time at EMU?

When I came to EMU, I knew a handful of students who came from my high school (Iowa Mennonite School). Living in Maplewood allowed me to develop friendships with individuals from across the country. Some of my favorite memories include hanging out with friends in the dorms, watching EMU soccer games, and hanging out with friends on the hill. Additionally, when I reflect back, I cannot erase the 15-hour drive where we would pack four or five in a car and leave at the crack of dawn heading either back to Iowa or back to Virginia. While the drive was long, the company was always entertaining. However, the next time I head back to EMU, I hope it is on an airplane rather than a 15-hour car ride!

What do you think makes EMU graduates distinctive?

If I had to narrow it down to one thing that makes EMU graduates distinctive across all academic programs, I would say that EMU has the ability to turn out extremely well-rounded, open-minded graduates. EMU fostered a culture of tolerance and in a culture where everything is changing and we have so much to learn from one another, this is more crucial today than ever before.