Heather Vitko

Associate Professor
MSN Program Director
Coordinator of the Clinical Nurse Leader Program
Acute & Tertiary Care


Heather Vitko PhD, RN, CNL, CCRN, TCRN is an associate professor in the Department of Acute and Tertiary Care at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. She is an experienced critical care nurse with over 20 years of experience at a Level 1 trauma center. She holds national certification in both critical care and trauma nursing and has served in many roles within her local chapter of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.  She has extensive experience as an academic educator, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. 

She has worked as a CNL for nearly a decade, with additional experience in clinical, simulation, and skills lab coordination.  With the skills and knowledge she learned as a CNL, she led her hospital unit through quality improvement efforts, effecting policy change through presentations of evidence-based practices, and mentoring new nurses in improving patient outcomes. 

Dr. Vitko’s research interests lie in infection prevention with the use of novel strategies in the acute care setting.  She also has conducted research on non-pharmacological ways to reduce anxiety and improve test scores with undergraduate nursing students.

Dr. Vitko received her BSN from Saint Francis University, her MSN with Clinical Nurse Leader area of concentration from the University of Pittsburgh, and her PhD in Nursing from Duquesne University.


Dr. Vitko is the coordinator of the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) area of concentration, and the MSN Program Director.  She teaches NURSP 2095: Contemporary Issues in Nursing and the CNL Role Seminar, and NURSP 2096 & 2097: CNL Clinical Practicum.


Dr. Vitko is a member of the national and local chapters of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, serving in a variety of leadership roles.  She is the co-founder of a rural, free medical clinic reaching the medically un- and underinsured population.  Additionally, she assisted in the development of an interprofessional activity that won the 2018 Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.