Cheney, Wash -- When someone asks Candace Madriaga and Hayley Primm what they did over the summer, the two Eastern Washington University (EWU) Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Cadets can enthusiastically say that they had a summer very different from their fellow college students.

That is because both Cadets participated in the Army's Nurse Summer Training Program (NSTP). The NSTP only accepts the top ROTC applicants to complete a four-week training event where Cadets are assigned to Army hospitals throughout the U.S. and overseas. The NSTP introduces Cadets to the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) and to the roles and responsibilities of an Army Nurse Corps Officer.

Under the supervision of an experienced Army nurse, the Cadets obtain invaluable hands-on experience. This one-on-one experience allows them to hone their clinical skills, develop their problem-solving techniques, and become comfortable with developing their professional skills as a member of the U.S. Army Healthcare Team.

Cadet Madriaga was assigned to work at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. While there she had the opportunity to work in three exciting and different units: medical-surgical, emergency, and labor/delivery. On the medical-surgical floor she learned how time management is absolutely paramount to mission success. The emergency unit taught her the importance of working effectively with Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) in a fast-paced and stressful environment. The last unit she worked in was labor/delivery, which Cadet Madriaga described as "surprisingly calm and quiet." While there she fulfilled her dream of witnessing child birth and monitoring the health of both a newborn and its mother.

At NSTP Cadet Madriaga gained over 160 hours of hands on nursing experience in one month. Summarizing her experience, she said, "NSTP showed me what it's like to be an active duty Army nurse and solidified my choice in becoming an Army healthcare professional."

The NSTP also provides nursing Cadets an opportunity to serve overseas. For example, Cadet Primm was assigned to Brian Allgood Community Hospital on Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, South Korea. She spent the duration of her time in the Mother Infant Care Unit, where she helped deliver babies and cared for antepartum and postpartum mothers. Some of her most memorable experiences came from watching and assisting with numerous cesarean section deliveries. Working with numerous South Korean one US Army nurse, Cadet Primm compiled 148 hours of hands-on experience. Describing her hospital experience she stated, "It was super intimidating at first, because Korean was the major language used in the workplace. Luckily, I had an amazing Korean co-worker who translated everything into English for me. The experience showed me that nursing is something that anyone, speaking any language, from any culture, can do."

In addition to working in the hospital, Cadet Primm also had the opportunity to experience South Korean culture. She made friends with Korean soldiers that worked at the hospital, visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), hiked Mt. Bukhan, the tallest mountain in Seoul, went paragliding, visited museums, and experienced Korean cuisine. Summarizing her experience, Cadet Primm stated "Overall, going to Korea has been my favorite experience thus far that the Army has awarded me, and I encourage all my peers to seek out the same type of adventures I got to undergo there."

THE EWU ROTC program, over the course of four years, takes students with little or no military background and develops them into the Army's leaders of tomorrow. The EWU ROTC program has been training Cadets since 1952 and currently has 15 Cadets enrolled in a nursing program. Upon graduation and completion of nursing certifications, the Cadets are commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants and assigned to work in Army hospitals both domestically and around the world.