Male nurse Robbie Hemmer stands in a hospital hallway, smiling at the camera.

When Robbie Hemmer told his wife that he wanted to quit his job and go to nursing school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, he was met with silence.

Years prior to this, Hemmer had received a bachelor’s in business administration from a different college and began a career in banking as a commercial loan officer. When the economy took a downturn in 2008, Hemmer said that the satisfaction he used to have with his job began to fade.

“I went from a role of being a helper, someone who gives loans to start businesses, to more of a collector,” Hemmer said. “My job wasn’t as pleasant as it used to be.”

Hemmer and his fellow coworkers went to a meeting he described as being called the “past due meeting.” While waiting for the meeting to start, a coworker said, “I wish I had listened to my mother and gone to nursing school.” According to Hemmer, that stuck with him.

In the evenings and in secret, Hemmer took a couple of anatomy and physiology courses at UA Little Rock. He loved it.

It was at this point that he made his decision to talk to his wife about quitting his job. It was a difficult decision. He was about to be promoted. After some convincing, his wife was very supportive and told him to go for it.

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Hemmer, 46, is from Dardanelle, Arkansas. He has been married for 13 years and has one, six-year-old daughter.

It took him two years to complete his associate degree in nursing. After completing his nursing clinicals at CHI-St. Vincent Hospital, he began to work there as a registered nurse. After a few years, he moved into a managerial role and started taking online courses at UA Little Rock to complete his Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Hemmer, who had never taken online courses before, said he was really surprised by the flexibility of the program. Even with the long hours that a nurse has to work, Hemmer was able to make time to complete his course work.

“There’s weekly touch-base assignments, and there’s projects that you actually work on with classmates,” Hemmer said. “And not all the classmates are here. There’s a lot of students that are out of state. So, it was really kind of neat to experience that. It was as close to a classroom feel that I can imagine an online program being.”

Having a business background, Hemmer said the online RN-to-BSN program at UA Little Rock really helped him fill in the gaps of knowledge he had in healthcare and management.

Hemmer is currently transitioning to a new position; he will be the nurse manager of the RN residency program for the health system at CHI-St. Vincent.

“It’s kind of strange that just five-and-a-half years ago, that was a program that I had to go through to be a nurse here,” he said. “And now I’ll be leading that program.”

Hemmer said that he’d eventually like to be in an administrative position. He feels that the things that could be done in a position like that would have more of an impact.

“What I’m looking for is being able to be helpful, to contribute, to fulfill those needs that I have, to truly give back. And that’s a way I can give back in a larger capacity and utilize my talents,” he said.

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