Online RN program gives working mom freedom to continue education

A photo of Callie Ham listening to a patient's heartbeat with a stethoscope.

When Callie Ham decided to further her nursing education, she was torn between two different colleges. She ultimately chose the online registered nursing program at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville.

“I was very seriously considering two different programs. I made the decision to go with UACCB because of the online program option. There are not any other online programs anywhere near me, and it was important that I could still work full time,” Ham said.

Ham, originally from California, moved to Cherokee Village with her family when she was 8. She said her mother was an inspiration to her and a strong influence in her decision to go to college.

“My mother was in her 30s when she decided to pursue her teaching degree. Her dedication to achieving her dreams while raising a family has taught me that while it is hard, it is possible,” she said.

Before Ham entered the nursing field, she worked as a hairstylist. “I enjoy working with people, and I liked to make people feel good about themselves, but after several years I realized I wanted to do more,” she said.

Ham completed her certified nursing assistant degree and licensed practical nurse training at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home. She said she also completed several courses at Ozarka College. She received her license as a practical nurse in September 2014. Ham is currently working toward her associate of applied science degree in registered nursing at UACCB and is on track to graduate in December.

“I wanted to be a nurse as a little girl. I always loved the sciences in school, especially the dissections in anatomy class,” Ham said. “I love that through nursing, you can focus on the whole person. Nurses are concerned with not only physical health and well-being, but emotional and spiritual as well. I love helping people and I desired a career where I could do that every day. That is why I chose the nursing profession.”

Ham said that being an online student had its own set of benefits as well as challenges.

“Being in an online program, I can study and do my schoolwork whenever and wherever. I feel that is very important, especially for those who may have families or small children,” she said. “I do struggle some days finding the time to read and do my studies as well as work. In some ways, I like that it is more self-directed than an in-class setting. If there is something that I need to take more time on, or less time, I can. Along with that freedom, it brings the challenge of finding self-motivation. One must truly want to do it, and then you have to make the time. You may have to make sacrifices, but it is only temporary.”

Ham added that having a solid support system is key to completing a degree.

“Having a support system is so very important. My husband and family are wonderful and have supported me all the way, and I know that is making a huge difference. Also, the instructors UACCB are all very encouraging, and I have no doubt that they truly desire for all their students to succeed.”

Ham and her husband Dillon have been married 10 years and have two children, Evan and Lydia. She currently works at Network of Community Options in Batesville serving special needs individuals. She is also the children’s church leader at Melbourne First Assembly.