By Annette P. Gomes, Army Warrior Care and TransitionMay 8, 2019
ARLINGTON, Va. -- U.S. Army nurses are often referred to as "angels" on the battlefield as they provide care for Soldiers in harm's way; caring for our wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. It's a career Maj. Jemah V. Parker refers to as her true calling.
"Initially, as a little girl growing up in Liberia, I wanted to be a doctor and I spent most summers during my Secondary School [High School] years at a small clinic owned by a family member. I witnessed rounds and how the doctors interacted with a patient and then hurried on to the next one," Parker said.
As time went on, Parker began noticing the matron of the ward and how it was the nurses who remained with the patients and continued to care for them throughout the day. That's when she realized she wanted to be a nurse. "I wanted to spend more time at the bedside and render compassionate care to patients as the nurses in the ward were doing."
Parker is one of 27,000 Army nurses across the nation being celebrated during National Nurses Week beginning May 6 and ending on May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday. Nightingale is considered the pioneer of modern nursing, after she led a team of nurses that reduced the death rate at a British base hospital by two-thirds during the Crimean War in the 1850s. This year's theme: Nurses are superheroes.
Parker says she witnessed her own [she-ro] firsthand in her own family.
"My great aunt, who has now passed, was a nurse. She was one of my greatest nursing inspirations. She was very caring and one of my biggest cheerleaders."
Parker says the military helped her fulfill her dreams of following in her great aunts footsteps.
"I chose the military path because I wanted to be different. I knew no other organization in the world would give me the skills and training like the military. The most rewarding experience for me is being an Army Nurse," Parker said.
From paper charts to smartphones and diplomas to degrees, the field of nursing has changed significantly since Florence Nightingale began revolutionizing healthcare in the 1800's. However, Parker says there are a few critical things in nursing that will always be needed and can't be learned from a textbook.
"Compassion and critical thinking skills are two skills you cannot learn on the job. The most rewarding part for me is knowing these actions as a nurse will impact the life or lives of another human being," Parker explained. "There is no greater gratification than treating someone who has been wounded, ill and injured the way I would like to be treated. Making a difference in the lives of Soldiers and their families is the most gratifying job I've ever had as a nurse!"