LANDSTUHL, Germany – Three Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets received a unique training experience this summer while participating in the Nurse Summer Training Program at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the only forward-stationed medical center for United States and Coalition Forces.
The month-long program aims to introduce future Army nurses, currently enrolled in an ROTC program, to military medicine and the roles and responsibilities of Army Nurse Corps officers.
For some cadets, like Cadet Teresa Novoa, a student at California State University, Fresno, the experience is a lifelong aspiration realized.
“I always wanted to [be a nurse] since middle school,” explains Novoa, a native of Stockton, California. After participating in JROTC during high school, Novoa thought her days of military drill were over before realizing the opportunities available to her.
For other cadets, the program helps reinforce their decision in the career field.
“I just kind of ended up in Nursing,” said Lawrence Randall, a native of Wylie, Texas, who is attending Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. After changing his major multiple times, Randall explored nursing as an option, eventually deciding on the major in his second year of school. “I just ended up in [ROTC and Nursing] and thought ‘This is where I need to be’.”
“My Dad [served in the] Army and my grandfathers both served in the Navy, so I always had that in the back of my mind,” said Cadet Joelle Perry, a Fairfax, Virginia native and student at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Like Randall, Perry’s ROTC journey didn’t start until her college sophomore year, stating the opportunity to experience new missions in different environments drove her toward the Army.
“I've always wanted to do nursing, no one in my family is [in the medical field]. I just love the idea of helping people and having a change of scenery, not just having a desk job,” said Perry. “[Army nursing[ is just the perfect mix of both [nursing and military].”
While nine Army hospitals participate in NSTP, LRMC’s unique role as the evacuation and treatment center for all injured U.S. Service Members, civilians and Coalition Forces serving throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East, is unmatched.
During their training, the cadets worked closely under the supervision of experienced Army nurses, while obtaining one-on-one hands-on clinical experience. The month-long training offered cadets opportunities to participate in simulated casualty response efforts, shifts at various clinics including the intensive care unit, inpatient wards, labor and delivery, neonatal intensive care unit and even participated in the Air Force’s Critical Care Air Transport Team transfer of care for a simulated patient.
Additionally, cadets were afforded the opportunity to explore the different roles in Army nursing, from military treatment facilities and medical centers like LRMC, to field units, such as combat support hospitals and field hospitals, which are usually the first to treat patients in combat environments.
“We saw these different fields in nursing I didn't even know existed,” said Novoa, who credits the NSTP program with more in depth knowledge of additional training opportunities such as the Army’s elite Ranger School.
“I had no idea what Army nursing was like, so this was my first experience,” said Randall. “It’s a totally different world and an opportunity for new experiences and learning.”
While the clinical settings aren’t new to the cadets, the diverse health care setting LRMC provides presented new aspects of the nursing profession and involvement in patient care.
“If [a cadet] was curious about anything they let us branch out [under supervision],” explains Novoa. “If we didn't know something they threw you in to learn. [NSTP] instilled confidence.”
While NSTP focuses on medical capabilities and roles in health care, the cadets managed to take away more from their experiences with LRMC staff.
“You make so many connections here, you can talk to others who have gone through the same experiences and learn an incredible amount about your Army career,” said Novoa. “You can't learn that stuff in nursing school.”