Robert Leuck – Registered Nurse, Wheaton Franciscan Hospitals

It was Christmas Day, 1995, and Robert Leuck’s first night on the job as an aide at a nursing home. It also was the night when Leuck felt his “ah ha!” moment, realizing he finally had found the job he was meant to do.

“They always made the newcomers work the holidays,” said Leuck. “I remember feeling very, very, very good about everything because you could see the immediate impression you were making on these people’s lives. These were people who had the best part of their life behind them. You could see how gratified they were to have somebody do something for them and make them happy. I’ll never forget that was the day I knew I had found a job that made me happy.”

Leuck works as a registered nurse at Wheaton Franciscan Hospitals in the Milwaukee area including Elmbrook Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, St. Francis Hospital and the Wisconsin Heart Hospital. His work weeks caring for patients can stretch to 50 and 60 hours long.

“It can really be hard, but when you weigh what you are doing for the people and the benefits that they’re getting and the gratification that I get, that kind of helps overcome some of that grind that can develop over time,” he said.

“In the nursing business, your reward every day is getting a smile from a patient,” he said. “The question I always want to hear a patient ask is, ‘Are you coming back tomorrow?’ When they ask you that, you know they’re happy with the job you’ve done.”

Prior to becoming a nurse, Leuck had held a variety of jobs in the business world.

“I have an undergraduate degree in accounting and marketing, and I even have a master’s degree,” said Leuck, whose career included running his own carpet and furniture cleaning business, working for the Internal Revenue Service, FedEx and being a territory sales representative for Topps chewing gum.

But it was during his nine years at the U.S. Veterans Administration when Leuck discovered that being a nurse was his calling.

“I was taking an anatomy and psychology class and met a woman named Nancy, who was going to school to become a nurse,” he said. “She said it only cost $40 to put your name on the registry to be considered for classes.”

Leuck signed up and learned he only had to take four more classes to get into nursing school.

“And the rest is history,” Leuck said with a laugh.

He was nominated for a Health Care Heroes Award by his daughter, Victoria Leuck, who is following in her father’s footsteps as a certified nursing assistant.

“It took my dad a long time to find that nursing is what he wanted to do with his life, and I couldn’t be more proud,” said Victoria Leuck. “It’s the best decision he made. My dad worked at my place of employment a couple times, and I remember at my interview, the manager recognized my last name and asked if Robert Leuck was my dad. That manager then raved about how much she loved my dad and how he was such a hard worker.”

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