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Serving overseas was just the start of his passion and dedication to patient care.
Peter Hemmerling, a nursing professional development generalist at Arnett Hospital, served in the U.S. military prior to his time with IU Health. Hemmerling joined the United States Navy at the age of 18 as a Hospital Corpsman (enlisted medical specialists who provide support with combat operations, humanitarian missions and providing the best care to others by performing medical duties).
Hemmerling’s first assignment included working as a corpsman in a hospital in Yokosuka, Japan, where he assisted with labor and delivery.
“I was able to have my first assisted delivery, that I completed with a nurse midwife, when I was 19 years old,” shares Hemmerling. “It sparked my passion for nursing, and the nurses that I worked with on the labor delivery floor really helped set me up on my path for nursing school.”
Following his time in Japan, Hemmerling went to a field medical training battalion with the Marines in North Carolina. While there, Hemmerling became trained to be a field medical technician with the Marine Corps.
Hemmerling (pictured second from right in the image at the top of the page) then did a tour in southern Afghanistan in Marjah from 2010-11. On these combat missions, the military would host health checks for the community. Hemmerling’s platoon provided care for 13 marines in addition to supplying medical coverage for the locals who would come to the outpost base. He would evaluate patients and either send them to receive higher levels of care or he would provide medical care on the spot.
After his time in the Marines, Hemmerling realized he wanted to return to school. Using his G.I. Bill (benefits for veterans that help pay for education), Hemmerling went to Indiana University Kokomo. Then he came to IU Health Arnett for his nursing clinical capstone. While completing his capstone, Hemmerling was paired with another nurse who is now the manager of Acute Care (AC)5, the sister unit to Hemmerling’s unit—AC 6.
“It is definitely a full circle moment, seeing how we have grown individually and together as a team. I worked with this nurse during my capstone and now she has progressed into a management role, and I’ve progressed into an educational one.”
When reflecting on how his time in the service has impacted his current perspective, Hemmerling shared that it has provided him a broader global sense and understanding in how he serves the community.
“When it comes to dealing with difficult patients, I feel that I have grace with understanding. I can pull from my nursing toolbox to make sure that our patients get the best care that's designed for them.”
Hemmerling’s global understanding can be attributed to his experience working with other cultures, specifically the Japanese. Living in Japan and working within the Japanese culture exposed him to different cultural behaviors, specifically the idea of perfection. These ethics became instilled into Hemmerling and how he approaches his practice today.
Additionally, Hemmerling found that his time working with the Afghan National Army has translated into his current educational role.
“When I was in Afghanistan, along with treating the locals, I would help train the medics in the Afghan army. I would work with an interpreter to ensure that they understood the basics and understanding as far as emergency medicine goes,” shares Hemmerling. This experience taught him how to be more patient and understanding with people from different backgrounds and education levels to make sure that they understand the information and can retain it and execute that information effectively.
“My time in the service has greatly helped me with truly understanding all facets of a patient, whether that is a patient in an extreme trauma situation or a patient who is expecting a child for the first time. It has given me that global perspective that has helped me in my role here with IU Health to ensure that our patients get everything they could possibly get.”