RWJF Scholar Aaron Kemmling

By Melinda (Ablard ’90) Smith

July 16, 2014

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Switching from career plans in finance to nursing might seem like a big leap for some—but not for Aaron Kemmling.

He has always wanted to work in the medical field but didn’t think he was smart enough.

“Math came easy to me so a finance degree seemed to make sense,” says Kemmling, of Olathe. “Toward the end of my degree, my dream of being in healthcare became more and more pressing on me. I felt a need to serve others.”

So although he finished the finance degree, he bypassed jobs in that field, instead earning a paramedic license. He worked on ambulances the next three years, first in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and then in rural Miami County, Kan.

During his last year as a paramedic in Miami County, Kemmling was promoted to lieutenant and supervised employees while still fulfilling his job on the road. He also set up a community CPR training program, and is still a licensed Basic Cardiac Life Support (BCLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) instructor.

“My chief saw the passion I had to equip members of the community with the skills to perform CPR,” Kemmling says. “He put me in charge of a project to increase the awareness of the need for bystander CPR.”

The project was a success, but Kemmling’s experience as a paramedic in the Kansas City area produced more than a new local CPR program; it brought about a life change. It was here that he became a Christian through the mentorship of a close friend and here that he met his wife, Danielle, who is one of his biggest inspirations. It was also here that he decided he wanted to spend more time with patients and sensed God was calling him into nursing.

“Being a nurse provides an open door to show the compassion of Christ to a patient in their time of crisis,” says Kemmling, who is now a student in MNU’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing (ABSN) program. “I cannot think of a better career to incorporate my love for people and my desire to serve the needs of others.”

He also has received a one-time scholarship of $10,000 from MNU’s School of Nursing and Health Science through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: New Careers in Nursing (RWJF NCIN) program. The scholarship is awarded to select ABSN students who are from a population underrepresented in the nursing field, traditionally men and minorities, or who have significant financial need. It is only available in the ABSN program, which gives students the opportunity to finish a nursing degree in one year.

After graduation, Kemmling would like to put his new skills to work in an intensive care unit, specifically a cardiovascular ICU. However, his goal is eventually to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), a plan that further makes him a perfect fit for the NCIN scholarship, which encourages nurses to further their education.

MidAmerica Nazarene University has received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: New Careers in Nursing (RWJF NCIN) grant the past six years and uses the money to fund Accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing scholarships. Over the years, the school has awarded 45 NCIN scholarships. The goal of the RWJF grant is to help alleviate the nursing shortage, to diversify the workplace and to bolster faculty and leadership.