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Congressman French Hill declares UA Little Rock nursing student a ‘Hometown Hero’

Aaron Baxter
Aaron Baxter

U.S. Rep. French Hill has recognized a University of Arkansas at Little Rock nursing student for his exceptional work on the frontlines at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

Aaron Baxter, of Benton, works as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at UAMS. Hill recognized Baxter before the U.S. House of Representatives this summer, and that recognition is now part of the permanent Congressional Record.

“Aaron’s superiors say that he is a team player who stands out due to his high regard for patient care and safety,” Hill said. “I thank Aaron for his dedication to protecting the health of Arkansans during this time. He, and frontline workers like him, are vital to us overcoming COVID-19 as a nation.”

Baxter, who will graduate from UA Little Rock with a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree in May 2021, said that keeping patients safe is a team effort, and the honor belongs to all his co-workers.

“I’m definitely honored by this recognition, and I hope that everyone understands that, as nurses, we have to rely on each other,” Baxter said. “Nursing is a team occupation. I could not do what I do without the people I work with. We recently had a big group text where we thanked everyone for being so supportive. It’s great to know we’ve got each other as our other family. Having that support makes it worth it. To me, this is an honor for all the folks that I’ve worked with.”

Baxter got his first experience in healthcare as a volunteer EMT. He joined UAMS in 2015 as a patient care technician after working for nearly two decades in the energy and manufacturing sectors.

“I was a volunteer EMT in my 20s, so I had a little taste for healthcare then, but I didn’t have the confidence in my early 20s to pursue that,” he said. “After some more life experiences, the opportunity presented itself for me to come home and pursue school. My sister, who has been an ICU nurse for 12 years, was a big influence who really helped guide me to this decision.”

While working as a patient care technician, Baxter attended nursing school at UA Little Rock in 2017 and obtained his associate degree in nursing in 2018.

“UA Little Rock has an accelerated option for the nursing program,” Baxter said. “My goal was to get into the accelerated program, so I could quickly get back to work. As a working adult student, that was my deciding factor.”

Dr. Sloan Davidson, chair of the UA Little Rock School of Nursing, said that Baxter is a great nurse and wasn’t surprised that he had received such an honor.

“Aaron was always at the top of his class, admired by his peers,” Davidson said. “He was kind and helpful to everyone, including faculty. He was one of a group of students that constantly checked on me my first semester as chair.”

With the current pandemic, Baxter has taken on yet another role in his unit, working as both a COVID nurse and a D-officer, where his role is to help colleagues make sure they are properly using and removing their protective equipment.

“Working in any kind of critical care unit is stressful,” Baxter said. “Adding the coronavirus and all the unknowns to that has been stressful, but we’ve had a lot of support. As a team, my unit has done the best job we could in order to provide exceptional care. That hasn’t changed because of the coronavirus.”