Capt. Zane Dye is a sexual assault medical forensic examiner and a victim advocate at Ireland Army Health Clinic--a role we don't always think of as a "man's place." He said while it isn't unusual for a man to be a SAFE, they aren't everywhere but are more welcome than the stereotype suggests.

"In my experience women are as comfortable and sometimes more, because they feel less judged by their peers so it helps (them communicate) easier," he said. "And research has shown that if they can have a positive interaction with a male after a sexual assault their risk of PTSD goes down. I've never had a female decline to work with me, and several specifically request to work with a man."

Dye, one of many nurses who will recognize National Nurses Week May 6-12, decided to become a nurse thanks in part to a high school mentor.

"My JROTC instructor who was a huge mentor to me- was a retired Air Force nurse," he explained. "She had so many great stories and was such a great teacher that I wanted to be like her. When I mentioned that I was considering nursing school she encouraged me to try, but to be aware that it was not an easy course of instruction."

Once he started school he learned that nursing school was just as hard as he had been told. But, he noted, it leads to a remarkably rewarding and open ended profession that can be good for anyone with a capacity for caring.

His first real job out of nursing school was in the Army and in many ways, he added, it has exceeded the picture he had painted of the profession.

"All through school I remember being told that nurses could do anything. I never really understood what that meant until I joined the Army," he explained. "Now I have seen nurses in all sorts of jobs from the traditional bedside role to executive leadership--and that's just in the hospital setting. Humanitarian work, public outreach, deployments, flight nursing, advanced practice, etc. are all wonderful opportunities that are afforded to nurses in the Army. My goal is to try as many of them as I can."

One of the many jobs that nurses have is one Dye took on after learning what a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner nurse was while stationed at Fort Bragg.

"I saw I could reach out and have a positive effect on people's lives. I didn't realize this was a specialty and I didn't realize there was a population where I could make an impact," he said. "The leader of the program was very charismatic and instructive and I felt like I could help people."

He added that DoD is actually "leading the way" when it comes to sexual assault response and prevention. And to stay ahead of the game, he said the Army offers SAFE nurses of both genders to provide the best care possible by helping build rapport with the victim.

"A good rapport can help the patient to feel comfortable reliving the event, and helps guide medical and law enforcement professionals to secure the best possible outcome for the patient," he explained.

Dye pointed out that nursing is a team sport and peer groups, supervisors, bed managers, executive leadership, providers, therapy, radiology, lab, pharmacy techs, etc. are all working together to support the patient.

"While this seems pretty straight forward on the outside, its only when we can truly understand that simple fact that we can make positive changes, both in the healthcare system and for individual patients," he said.

Serving as a victim advocate is not the only way Dye has served within the community. He has also worked with the Fayetteville Police Department in prostitution diversion programs.

"The police officers would meet with prostitutes and direct them to me and other support services to try and enable them to leave the lifestyle," he explained. "Through this I was able to assist in the diversion of two underage victims of human trafficking."

Because the job of nursing requires empathy and compassion, nurses can not only be physically stressed but emotionally stressed as well.

Dye said the way many providers deal with stress is with humor--if they can't laugh, the stress will just build and start to eat away at them. But, he added, there are good hobbies to help too.

"I took up cooking soon after entering active duty," he explained. "It started as burning regular dinners, but that slowly evolved to multicourse meals, making my own bread, and blow torching everything I can. Over the years I've really come to love cooking as a relaxing but challenging hobby. Now I look forward to weekends where I'll spend the majority of a day buying ingredients in town, cooking in the afternoon and having a great meal with family that night."

There are lots of reasons why he stays with his chosen career--starting with the fact he said it's a good job where he can make a good living and where he gets to help people every day.

"The fact that I have Soldiers and their family members as my patient population just increases my job satisfaction. I also owe Uncle Sam a few more years on my contract, but I don't plan on retiring from service anytime soon."

INFOBOX:
National Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 6 to raise awareness of the important role nurses play in society. It marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, which ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale. "Advocating, leading, caring" - the slogan of the American Nursing Association. For more information on National Nurses Week visit, www.nursingworld.org/FunctionalMenuCategories/National-Nurses-Week-2017.