Inspiring a generation of nurses

Professor Margaret Flemming has shared her enthusiasm for physiology with Jeramy Ware and hundreds of other students in the Austin Community College District.

“I don’t know that I’d be a nurse, much less working towards a master of science degree in nursing, without Professor Flemming,” said Jeramy, as he described his inspirational professor. Jeramy dropped out of high school over twenty years ago, but he returned to school and is now employed as a cardiac nurse at South Austin Medical Center.

He took Professor Flemming’s physiology course during his second semester at Austin Community College (ACC). “Everybody warns you that this is the hardest class you’re going to take, that this is the one they use to weed out all the people from going to nursing school,” Jeramy recalled. “I was a new back-to-school student, and I was terrified. But Professor Flemming inspires you, and the way she teaches just makes you love the subject.”

Jeramy credits Professor Flemming with helping him develop skills that enhanced his employability, in addition to teaching him how the body works. “She taught me to look for the cause, instead of just seeing the effect. And that’s how I diagnose patients.”

“She also taught me how to get through to people and how to teach them,” he said. If one approach didn’t work, Professor Flemming would try another. Jeramy uses this skill every day in his work as he trains new nurses or educates patients to prevent re-admission to the hospital.

Professor Flemming doesn’t give you answers, but she shows you how to find them, and that’s what serves you best in life.

— Jeramy Ware, RN

Professor Flemming has been teaching at ACC for fifteen years. “Most of the students that I work with at ACC are working really hard to pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” she said. “So many community college students are not your traditional four-year students. Many of them are returning after being out of school for a number of years, and many of them are first-generation college students. They just really inspire me.”

Professor Flemming strives to engage her students. “I just want to hook them,” she explained. “I want to get them excited about what they’re learning.”

She also wants to teach students how to problem-solve. “A lot of the content in our courses is readily accessible thanks to the Internet,” she explained. “But what to do with that information is the critical part: how to read a patient’s chart and determine what questions they should ask the patient or how to answer the patient’s questions. I teach my students to take their analytical skills forward into whatever they do.”

Professor Flemming remembers Jeramy as being a persistent student, and she is not surprised at how far he has progressed in his career. “If he didn’t make an A on an exam, he was in my office the next day asking questions,” she recalled. “Like so many of our students, Jeramy is remarkable. He has been working while going to school, and he and his wife have four kids. He is a self-starter and a non-quitter.”

Jeramy firmly believes that this inspirational professor improved not only his employability, but that of many other nurses. As a preceptor at the medical center, he trains many of Dr. Flemming’s former students. “Her students are the ones I love to work with when we hire new nurses,” he confided. “She inspired a generation of nurses. We’re all better because we took her class.”

Biographies

Jeramy Ware earned his associate’s degree in nursing from Austin Community College and his bachelor’s degree from Western Governors University (WGU). He is a cardiac nurse at South Austin Medical Center and is working on his master of science degree in nursing at WGU. His goal is to teach nursing students.

Margaret Flemming has a master of science degree in veterinary physiology from Texas A&M University. She started teaching biology as an adjunct professor at Austin Community College in 2001 and became a full-time professor in 2006. Prior to her work at ACC, she was a horse trainer, riding instructor, and competitive rider.