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59th Medical Wing nurses hone skills at local hospital
1st Lt. Casey Doll works with nurses in the pediatric intensive care unit Feb. 7, 2013, at University Health System . A partnership with the Air Force and UHS allows for UHS to be a clinical site for Air Force nurses and Doll is one of the first Air Force nurses to participate in the new program. Doll is a a critical care nurse fellow with the 59th Training Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Micky M. Bazaldua)
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59th Medical Wing, San Antonio hospital collaborate to hone AF nursing skills

Posted 2/14/2013   Updated 2/14/2013 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Micky M. Bazaldua
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

2/14/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- For the first time, the Air Force has partnered with a community hospital to develop highly skilled nurses who are trained for humanitarian and peacetime missions - Airmen whose skills are proven to increase patient survival rates in theater hospitals.

Building the partnership was instrumental in meeting an increase in the demand for the clinical training of nurses at nearby San Antonio Military Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.

The demand was largely due to the integration of the 59th Medical Wing and Brooke Army Medical Center as part of the new San Antonio Military Health System. Consequently, there was an ensuing increase in the number of Army, Navy and Air Force nursing students competing for clinical cases, experience, and the skill sets needed for graduation from their respective training specialties.

"The partnership with the Air Force nurse residency is a great opportunity for both organizations," said Evelyn Swenson-Brit, UHS Director for the Center for Excellence. "We have the opportunity to have highly trained instructors share their knowledge in both our clinical setting and as guests in their lectures on critical care."

"UHS has provided clinical training for military physicians for many years and is very excited to now provide clinical sites for our nurse colleagues as well," she said.

University Hospital is a level-one trauma center, treating about 70,000 patients at its emergency room annually. A new $800 million trauma wing at UHS, which is projected to be completed in 2014, will significantly increase patient volume in the emergency department and inpatient units.

"The new wing will provide many more opportunities for nurses to work in a challenging environment and gain unique experiences in specialized areas not offered at SAMMC, such as surgical transplants," said Lt. Col. Susan Davis, commander of the 59th Training Squadron here.

The partnership between the San Antonio Military Health System and the UHS will provide specialty training in various areas of expertise such as medical surgery, labor and delivery, operating room, emergency room, critical care, and neonatal intensive care. Additionally, University Hospital is the only pediatric trauma center for San Antonio and south Texas, providing significant training to nurses for humanitarian and wartime pediatric care.

Training rotations at University Hospital began in January 2013 with the Critical Care and Emergency Nursing Fellowship Program.

"This experience has given me greater confidence in my ability to meet challenges, making me more independent and proficient," said 1st Lt. Meredith Peiffer, a critical care nurse fellow with the 59th TRS who is currently doing a work rotation at UHS. "It's a beneficial course that builds graduates who are viewed as valuable resources by their peers."

"It's inspiring to see how our civilian counterparts work, especially with the higher operations tempo," said 1st Lt. Casey Doll, also a critical care nurse fellow with the 59th TRS.

"We see a lot of pediatric and burn patients during deployments. This training bridges the gap between years of inexperience so that we are better prepared," Doll said. "For any nurses considering this program, this is a hands-down recommendation. No other civilian institution will dedicate the time and effort to us like UHS, and I am very thankful for the opportunity."

"The partnership with UHS is an opportunity to significantly augment clinical experiences and is an educational opportunity for Air Force nurses. For nurses who are interested in applying, or learning more about the fellowship program, the first step is to inform your supervisor and chief nurse," said Maj. Kathy Savell, 59th TRS director of Critical Care Emergency Nursing Fellowship.

Savell said applicants should look for the next "call for candidates" letter and update their Airmen Development Plan on the Air Force portal. Nurses should then submit an application package through their chain of command.

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