Like many college students, it took Matt Derfelt a little time to figure out what career path he should follow. But along the way, he found his passion above the clouds.
Derfelt (BSN '95) is a flight nurse with St. John's Regional Medical Center's MedFlight air ambulance system in Joplin, Mo. He is one of three persons on a typical crew that includes the pilot and an EMT.
Derfelt said his path to becoming a flight nurse began when he took an EMT class. He was a construction engineering technology major at the time, but he knew almost instantly he had found his true calling elsewhere.
"I just fell in love with emergency care," Derfelt said. "(That class) made me wonder about the possibility of nursing."
Derfelt pursued his goal, finishing nursing school before spending time in the military and studying at a Texas seminary. In 2003, he returned to Joplin and jumped at the chance to become a flight nurse. For him, helping patients in such critical moments really is a dream come true.
"In 1993, when I was a tech here I would see these guys and gals fly out into the sunset," Derfelt said. "I would see them do some great work and I knew that's what I wanted to do. What stands out to me is the closeness I have with my peers. You learn to trust someone and their skills and knowledge."