Profile: Amanda Hartman places empathy at the root of nursing
Amanda Hartman loves being a nurse and teaching nursing. A calm, relaxed woman who radiates friendliness, Hartman talked recently about her work as an assistant professor in the Washburn School of Nursing and as a nurse for Washburn Student Health Services and East Topeka’s Pine Ridge Family Health Center.
“Empathy is really at the root of all that we do,” Hartman said.
Setting an example
A woman of many talents, Hartman has been a nurse the past 20 years. She originally worked in a hospital emergency room. She became a nurse practitioner midway through her career and has been one ever since. This is her fourth full year of teaching in the School of Nursing.
Hartman and her husband, Josh Hartman, have two children, 7-year-old Wyatt Hartman and 3-month-old Liam Hartman, who are key sources of motivation and inspiration. She said she wants to set an example for her children and show them that through hard work, they can achieve anything and become successful.
Her father’s illness helped shape who she is
Amanda Hartman’s vision to work in the medical field became clear at an early age. Hartman was born in Reno, Nevada. Her father, a huge influence upon her, was diagnosed with skin cancer when she was three years old, and died when she was nine. Most of Hartman’s memories of her father include doctor visits and hospital stays. She also recalls positive interactions with the nurses who took care of him.
While some of those memories may not be the fondest, they helped shape who she is and inspired her to pursue a career in the medical field.
“To me, there was no question with what I would do with my life,” Hartman said. “It would be something medical.”
WU professors provided inspiration
Hartman earned an associate degree in nursing from Penn Valley Community College, a bachelor’s degree from MidAmerica Nazarene University and a master’s degree and doctorate from Washburn.
Her professors at Washburn inspired her to go back to school to earn her doctorate.
“They really showed me what a nurse can achieve at the highest point in this role,” Hartman said. “They were really inspiring to me, and I wanted to be like them.”
Love, passion and joy
“Love,” “passion” and “joy” are words her fellow faculty members use to describe working with Hartman.
Hartman has a passion for embracing students and fostering their strengths, according to Michele Reisinger, also an assistant professor in the School of Nursing.
“Dr. Hartman has been an absolute joy to work with,” said Jody Toerber-Clark, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing. “She loves teaching the future [nurse practitioner] students!”
Being a nurse has at times been difficult for Hartman. She said one of the hardest things to deal with was that for part of her career, she lacked “full practice authority,” meaning she was not able to fully function as a nurse practitioner without a physician’s supervision. That has since changed, she said, and she can now deliver patient care without physician supervision.
The COVID-19 pandemic was also difficult for Hartman. She could feel the stress from her fellow frontline health workers during that time period.
Student Health Services shifted the way it worked during the pandemic, though it did not close. Still, Hartman for a time found herself at home, feeling guilty that she was not with her fellow health workers. She felt glad once she was able to return to work to help others.
She wouldn’t do anything different
Despite those difficulties, Hartman said she loves her job and enjoys the way her schedule constantly changes.
“I thrive on that,” Hartman said. “I don’t like things that are monotonous or very routine.”
When asked what she would do differently if she could restart her career all over again, Hartman replied, “Nothing.”
She said she feels happy about the choices she’s made, as they led to her becoming the nurse she is today.