AACN Publishes US Army Combat Research Study
Military nursing is certainly not for the faint of heart, body or spirit. Its a tough job. Being responsible for the care of the injured falls to military nurses.
Military nurses do their jobs under periods of extreme stress - the battlefield!
AACN recently published a research study that investigated the care of our service men and women from 2008 to 2014. AN was recently able to interview one of the researchers, Elizabeth Mann-Salinas, COL, USA (Ret), MSN, APRN.
1. The research study indicates that all injured servicemen and women that were transferred from Role 2 to Role 3 facilities utilized either fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft. Is the type of aircraft chosen based on patient injuries or availability of aircraft?
Generally almost all transport from a Role 2 forward surgical team is by rotary wing aircraft because these teams tend to be in austere locations without a runway for fixed wind transport. A few R2 facilities were co-located with an air base so that is why we had some transports by the fixed wing platform. What does change is the composition of the team that transport the patient, based on how critical they might be. The En Route Critical Care Nurse program was created to fill the identified gap in transporting post-operative patients.
2. In the study, 40% of the subjects did not have a defined en route care provider. Is there any thought to electronic medical records in combat?
EMR is the Holy Grail of all our battlefield documentation!! So many efforts are underway to tackle this difficult problem. In combat all communications systems are on the secure side and classified as Secret. This includes the medical information, making many of the proposed solutions unworkable. The Joint Trauma System works diligently to capture as much of the data on all patient care and movement but this is such a difficult challenge given our operational constraints. Even taking a photo of the paper records and sending it back to JTS is apparently not even tenable at this time until appropriate encryption and safe transfer can be established.
3. What type of military training do the nurses have that transport patients?
The JECC - Joint En Route Care Course - was created to meet the needs of the 3 services (Army, Navy, Air Force) to provide rotary wing experience for patient transport. Nurses and medics attend this course when they are expected to fulfil this mission. Critical Care Air Transport (CCAT) course is managed by the Air Force for fixed wing critical care transport teams (MD, ICU RN, RT). There is an Aeromedical Evacuation Course for nurses who care for the non-critically ill patients transported on fixed wing aircraft, and they are also trained to serve as the operational flight crew.
4. Many of our posters are nursing students. What would be a good career path if a student wants to become a military nurse?
I was recruited in 1994 out of my BSN program directly into the Army as a Nurse Corps Officer. It was the absolute best decision I ever could have made. They offered me my choice of initial duty assignment; the opportunity to specialize in either: critical care, emergency nursing, OB/GYN, behavioral health, OR (I chose critical care and attended the 4 month intensive course); and they allowed me a "sabbatical": to earn my Masters in Science as a Clinical nurse Specialist (at the University of Colorado in Denver) and then my PhD in Nursing at UTHealth - Houston. Full pay and benefits during those total 5 years of school. I attended the CCAT course and was a member of the Army Burn Flight Team for 2 years and was an amazing experience. I only retired last year to avoid another move now that my family is established here in Texas, but continue to serve as a civilian. Cannot recommend this option more to all nurses eager for career advancement, leadership opportunities, and world-travel. Please encourage interested students to reach out to a Health Care Recruiter. I believe the Army, Navy and Air Force programs are very similar, just depends on what you prefer. I like being on dry land myself......
Thank you so much for this informative interview Dr Mann-Salinas. AN has a robust Government/Military Nursing forum where you can find out more about nursing in the US military.
Permission was granted by the Public Affairs Officer, US Army Institute of Surgical Research to reprint this PDF