Debbie Fritz Retiring from Nursing Faculty


Fifteen years of dedicated service and invaluable contribution to Maryville University’s nursing program are drawing to a close for Debbie Fritz, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing, who recently announced her retirement, effective at the end of the 2006-07 academic year.

Fritz, who has been a nurse practitioner for 12 years and who currently teaches graduate students, joined the ranks of Maryville’s full-time faculty in the summer of 1993 after a brief stint as an adjunct faculty member. Asked what she enjoyed the most about her time at Maryville, Fritz recalled setting up the nursing lab: “It’s always been a challenge,” she said. “I started out with one room, a generous budget and three computers. I started the nursing lab from scratch, and created the beginnings of what we have now.”

Fritz says it took her two years to set up a fully functional lab, complete with beds, mannequins, and top-of-the-line computer programs. “We had some really sophisticated computer simulation programs that were brand new at the time. We had one of the best labs in the area and we had people coming in to look at it all the time.” Fritz also created time-saving “self-paced” (basic skill) modules for pharmacology, physical assessment, basic nursing skills and medical-surgical skills. Fritz ran the nursing lab until 2003.

In 1999, she undertook another challenge in launching the University’s graduate nursing program. “Over time, I have taught 50 percent of the graduate nursing courses, and setting up the program took a lot of planning. But we have been surveyed twice and have received the highest accreditation which is 10 years,” she remarked. “We started with four students, and now we have 70 working towards becoming nurse practitioners. Seven out of 10 of our students in December had jobs before they graduated. That’s really good; Maryville’s doing a good job.”

Fritz cites her husband Tom’s retirement and the desire “to be more spontaneous with travel” as her reason for retiring, though she says that 15 years is a long time at one job. Fritz has been married for about a year. She and her husband want to travel extensively and have been as far as Mexico, the Panama Canal and Fiji in the last year alone, not to mention travel within the United States. “This is a good stage in life to retire,” Fritz commented. “My three children, Bill, John and Kyle, are all graduating, one from high school, one from college, and one from graduate school.”

Fritz plans to remain involved with the Veterans Affairs office where she works one day a week. She loves working there and it allows her to maintain her nurse practitioner license. “I have so much fun there. You make somebody’s day better every day you’re there.” Fritz has always loved nursing and pursued it aggressively. “You can’t be a nurse unless you have a little bit of passion for people. You need to have that passion because people are so dependent on you as a nurse.”

Fritz said being a practicing nurse sparked her interest in teaching. “I decided to teach because I wanted to see an improvement in some of the graduates compared to what I had seen in practice. Nurse practitioner jobs are booming and I believe we are providing a service to the community by training students well.”

Fritz says she leaves academic life with a sense of fulfillment and gratitude. “I really do love Maryville University; I’ve been really happy. Maryville has been really good to me, and my family.”