MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – Lt. Col. Juanita Warman was a warrior with a nurse’s heart. Filled with compassion for her fellow service members, she went where the action was to care for them in battle and beyond. Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., conducted its 14th annual nursing conference, named in her honor on Friday, March 24.
Having recently left her post at Madigan, Warman stopped at Fort Hood, Texas to process for deployment to Iraq. There, she became the highest-ranking officer to lose their life in the shooting on post in November 2009, but not before saving another Soldier’s life by pushing him to the ground and out of the line of fire.
Madigan’s annual nursing conference keeps her spirit alive.
Like many things these past few years, the conference that brings all levels and specialties of nurses together for a day of learning and interacting, went virtual to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. This year, with transmission rates low, the conference returned to the American Lake Conference Center on North Fort.
“When we did the virtual conferences the last two years, we asked people’s preferences on an in-person versus a virtual conference and people wanted to have both options,” said Jessica Vailencour, a registered nurse who has served as the main point person organizing the conference for the past few years.
This year’s attendance proved its interest in the hybrid option with roughly 70 virtual attendees joining via MS TEAMS and just over 90 onsite.
Research was well represented in the schedule. Three of the seven presentations focused on research with subjects ranging from the distinctions between research, evidence-based practice and quality improvement to future research for Army Medicine with a look at historically informed nursing research along the way.
Additionally, other speakers were key personnel within Center for Nursing Science & Clinical Inquiry (CNSCI) areas at DHA facilities, the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston as well as the executive director of the TriService Nursing Research Program (TSNRP).
Attention to research is a natural fit for nurses as they are consistently seeking to improve the care and the efficiency of care delivery for their patients.
As Lt. Col. Rachael Wood said in her presentation on research, evidence-based practice and quality improvement, continually looking to improve processes is drilled into nurses in training. Referring to nurses in every field, she said, "You are affecting change at every level."
During the question section of Wood’s presentation, a query of how the TSNRP works with CNSCI was posed. Wood tagged Col. Young Yauger, the aforementioned executive director, to answer. Ahead of his own presentation, he gave the crowd a brief overview of the mission and functionality of the TSNRP.
Lt. Col. Tanisha Currie gave a presentation titled, “The Role of Nutrition in Health & Human Performance: A Nurse’s Perspective.” Currie was a lieutenant under Warman and viewed her as a mentor. Currie is now the deputy chief of research in the CNSCI at Brooke Army Medical Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
Currie shared something Warman said, "There's so much to do, so many lives to touch."
A years-long pandemic and chronic understaffing across the nation have put a clear strain on the nursing profession and nurses personally. Time to come together at events like the Warman conference give a visible boost to attendees.
It also offers an opportunity to explore topics from a nursing perspective, with valuable takeaways for attendees like Maj. KeishaMarie Boudreau, the deputy director of the Clinical Nurse Transition Program (CNTP) who was previously a head nurse in Madigan’s Intensive Care Unit.
“One of the presenters, Ms. [Caryn] Green, spoke about missed nursing care. I think that is something that is really close to all of us at this time – post-pandemic. Being that a lot of nurses are experiencing burn out and missed nursing care is one thing that can lead to that. Maybe it’s like the chicken and the egg – which one came first? As somebody who’s been a head nurse in the past, this information is really great to find out maybe some of the things that are going on that a head nurse might not be aware of. To get closer to the staff and find out how we can help them so we’re not missing care or that we’re reallocating workload,” said Boudreau.
Green, a vascular access manager, gave a presentation titled, “Missed and Rationed Nursing Care: The Impact of Silence,” and it was just one of many Boudreau was excited to experience. Hearing the topics that would be discussed at this year’s conference, she was determined to make the most of it.
“Wow, this is really great. I want to attend but I also want to bring some of the CNTP nurses with me – brand new to Madigan, brand new to the Army. And it’s excellent exposure and information for them to gain as well as for myself,” Boudreau said.
Another takeaway from the conference is a wealth of resources. Each presentation was rich in not only information from the presenter themselves but also offered direction to other areas to explore – websites, libraries and other repositories of knowledge, like the CNSCI staff.
Nurse scientists like Currie encouraged the audience to explore, engage and then share the knowledge they’ve learned as leaders.
Speaking specifically about nutrition, Currie said leaders need to share nutrition knowledge, recognize its importance in performance, make space for real meal breaks and model healthy nutrition as they live and work alongside their Soldiers, civilians and others in their realms of influence.
Asking the audience how they engage, Currie heard from nurse leaders that they sometimes turn regular lunch breaks into potlucks with staff as they share to encourage each other to eat healthy foods.
Another way this conference works to develop leadership skills is through its very coordination. Each year, lieutenants are involved in organizing, scheduling, budgeting and fundraising for the event.
“There’s a very smooth transition between last year’s and this year’s,” said Lt. Brenden Apolinario, who is on one of the medical-surgical wards and has been a nurse for just over a year and a half, of the transition from one conference coordination team to the next. “All the lieutenants basically just hand off to one another and it’s pretty seamless and you just try to improve on each other’s current process.”
Graduating the same year the pandemic caught fire, Apolinario’s view of his profession has not changed due to the stresses it has brought to it.
“I’m proud to be a nurse and an Army nurse. Nothing would have changed my decision to become a nurse. My main goal, and passion, is to help Soldiers and their families,” said Apolinario.
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