Francis Marion University

Adam Gude is a member of FMU’s first class of Doctorate of Nursing Practice students.

Soon to be Doctor of Nursing Practice Adam Gude has four college degrees and lots of experience. But it was guidance from the FMU Nursing faculty that made the biggest difference.

Adam Gude hasn’t followed the most direct path to a career in health care; but if he graduates, as expected, next December in the first class of Doctorate in Nursing Practice graduates from Francis Marion University, he’ll be where right he always wanted to be:

Where he can make a difference and armed with the skills and knowledge needed to do so.

Gude’s unique sojourn in health care and education has taken the Manning, S.C. native across the nation and through a dozen years of college work. Along the way he’s collected four different degrees (with a fifth, the DNP, on the horizon), started a family and worked in hospitals in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Florence.

Looking back, Gude says there was probably a simpler path out there — but not necessarily a better path.

“It’s certainly been a convoluted route, not the kind of thing you’d plan out,” says Gude. “But if I’d done it a different way, I wouldn’t have the perspective I have now. I don’t know how to assign a value to that, but that’s critical. And every step of the way I feel like I’ve gotten closer to that perfect place, where the career is balanced just right.”

If the journey was a big part of Gude’s saga, then he gives a lot of credit to faculty in the FMU Department of Nursing for steering him in the right direction. Gude launched his nursing career at FMU, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from FMU in 2011 and this Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner degree two years later. After several years on the job — and helping his wife Catherine raise two young daughters — Gude joined FMU’s first DNP class.

At every step along the way, Gude says, FMU faculty has “guided me, shaped me, helped me narrow my focus … Dr. Ruth Wittmann-Price (Dean of the School of Health Sciences at FMU) is a saint in my view. But Dr. (Deborah) Hopla, Dr. (Karen) Gittings, and many others have just gone so far beyond the classroom.

“I don’t think that’s just for me,” says Gude. “That’s the way they view nursing. What they do really well is keep the focus back on the community, the need. They see their mission as trying to improve the picture locally. That’s what this program stands for and I think that’s what many people, myself included, that’s why we’re interested in this field and profession.

“All along the way they kept asking, ‘what is your purpose? What are you going to do with this? How are you going to help?’ They keep that idea in front of you. It does make it into more than just a degree. It’s a career, a life.”

Before coming to FMU, Gude earned a degree in microbiology from Clemson, worked in a lab in Atlanta, earned his degree as a perfusionist from Ohio State University, and landed a job at the prestigious Cedar Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.

It seemed like the life, but Gude says something was missing.

“I wanted something that was more flexible had more patient interaction,” says Gude. “All of my patients (as a perfusionist, a specialist who runs the cardiopulmonary bypass machine during open heart surgery) were sedated. So there’s not much of that there.”

Nursing seemed a better fit, so Gude began looking for a nursing program. FMU was near his and Catherine’s hometown, but his choice was about more than convenience.

“That was a factor,” says Gude, “but there was a lot to appreciate (at FMU). FMU can deliver everything you’d want instructionally, and they can do it on a scale that’s just so intimate. That was obvious from my very first interaction. I knew that’s where I should be.”

Gude hasn’t been disappointed. At FMU he’s been involved in research and has completed countless hours of practical training. He’s even helped Dr. Hopla lobby in the state legislature for more practice freedom for Nurse Practitioners.

When Gude completes the DNP, a degree that prepares graduates for roles in leadership, practice and teaching, he will have 13 years in higher ed under his belt.

He wouldn’t mind a few more.

He’d like to teach.

“There’s a lot of ways to help there, a lot of connections to make,” says Gude. “I’ve seen that with my professors at FMU. I’ve seen what a difference they can make. That’s what it’s all about.”