What did you do this summer?

Katie LaBoa: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

I had the opportunity to shadow junior officers of the Navy, Army and Air Force Nurse Corps at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.  Walter Reed is a tri-service military medical center, whose primary mission is to serve military families, our nation’s active duty service members, returning war heroes, veterans and our Nation’s leaders, including the president.  During my month long training I shadowed fourteen different nursing units, including the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Medical Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Department, Wounded Warrior’s Unit, Labor & Delivery, and Oncology/Hematology floor and in.  I was also able to shadow a Wound Care Nurse, CRNA, and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.  Shifts typically lasted from 0630-1600.  Midshipmen would report to the charge nurse of their assigned floor and would then be placed with a nurse preceptor for the day.

My duties included performing head to toe assessments, administering medications, starting intravascular access, drawing blood, change dressings, and documenting all information into the system.  All of this was performed under close supervision of my preceptor; however I still retained a great deal of autonomy.  Most nurses would demonstrate the skill, teach me the next time, and then watch me perform it myself the third time.  I found this training to be very beneficial to me as a nursing student, as it allowed for me to perfect the skills I already had as well as develop new ones.  While this NROTC training served as an excellent opportunity to grow clinically, it also granted me the opportunity to develop professionally as a naval officer.  During my time at WRNMMC I met the Surgeon General of the Navy, as well as dozens of Navy Nurse Corps officers at the Bureau of Medicine.  There, the midshipmen learned of various leadership career paths healthcare professionals could take within the military, beyond bedside nursing.

I am truly grateful for my time at Walter Reed.  It opened my eyes to the world I am about to enter in a short few months after graduation. It helped set me up for success by developing me clinically as a nurse and professionally as a naval officer.  I cannot wait to graduate nursing school and commission as an Ensign into the United States Navy Nurse Corps. There is nothing more rewarding than serving those, and healing those who help protect our freedom.


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