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Hunter Burkhart poses in McCord nursing lab

Hunter Burkhart

“The program at Austin Peay has been great for building my confidence and showing me that Austin Peay nurses really do make some great nurses.”
Major: Nursing
Hometown: Clarksville, Tennessee
Involvement: Awarded Vanderbilt University Medical Center Credo Award in critical care track during summer 2018 internship at the hospital; peer leader for APSU 1000 classes
Nursing students walk away from McCord building
All APSU Nursing graduates have received jobs after graduation in the last five years.

At Austin Peay, we take great pride in our graduates and their success onward.

One of our recent nursing graduates, Hunter Burkhart, opened up about how following his dreams at APSU led him to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where’s he helping ICU patients battle COVID-19.

Growing up in Clarksville, Burkhart was able to witness nurses in action, and was inspired from an early age. By the time he was a senior in high school, he did dual enrollment classes with Austin Peay, and knew that it was the school for him. He enrolled at Austin Peay the following fall.

“I don’t think that if I could do anything different, I would. I would do the same school, same program. All over again.”


During his time at Austin Peay, he became a Peer Leader for an APSU 1000 class specifically for nursing majors. He claims it was one of the best experiences he had, as it pushed him out of his comfort zone. The leadership role let him build a rapport with students, as well as improve his time management. This opportunity encouraged him to go on and become an intern at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

His experience there was very beneficial for him. He was able to work in each of the intensive care units (ICU), and found out that he liked to work in the burn unit and the medical ICU. He did such great work during his time there that he was awarded the Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Credo Award.

Once he graduated, he was granted the opportunity to carry the gonfalon for the College of Behavioral Health Sciences. “I was honored that Austin Peay knew who I was, and that I would be a good fit to carry the gonfalon for the 2018 graduation. I think that’s a memory I hold most dear to my heart,” said Burkhart. 

Hunter Burkhart was awarded the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Credo Award in critical care track during his summer 2018 internship. Story continues below.

Since then, he has become a registered nurse at Vanderbilt, and is helping to fight COVID-19. When asked about how his internship helped him with handling COVID, he credits his instructors and the hands-on experiences that he had. “I had amazing instructors in the ICU who were always there if I had questions or were there to teach me something,” he said.

His accomplishments and experiences push him to look ahead to his next goal. Burkhart plans to go on to get his master’s, and is thinking about a doctorate. “The path I’m looking at right now is going back to school to become an acute care nurse practitioner. I’ve always looked up to them and they do a great job.”

Burkhart also had one last message for future students.

“I recommend anyone that’s looking into healthcare and more specifically nursing, to give it a shot and follow your dreams. Everything’s going to work out in the end.”