Nursing students train hands-on at LRMC

Spc. Todd Goodman, Story and photo
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***For a nursing student, one 12-hour shift at a Landstuhl Regional Medical Center patient ward is more valuable than two years at nursing school. At least that’s what two participants from the Nursing Summer Training Program had to say.

“I never started an IV while in nursing school,” said 1st Lt. Parker Hahn, a registered nurse at LRMC who attended the program at Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, where he started 23 IVs on his first night. “I had read about it and practiced sticking an orange, but …”

The program allows Army nursing students to get hands-on experience before finishing up their final year of nursing school. The program lasts four weeks if done overseas and three weeks in the United States.

Cadet Sara Hess, one of seven cadets participating in the program, arrived at LRMC July 18. After a few days acclimating herself and inprocessing, she pulled a 12-hour shift from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. on Ward 8 Delta, a medical and surgical patient ward.

“That first night I mostly shadowed the other nurses, watching their routines,” said Cadet Hess. “I started some IVs and, gave out some meds, took down an aerovac patient, changed beds and watched wound dressings being changed. I really stayed busy. I’ve already done more during this one shift than I have at nursing school.”

That is the appeal of the program, to put training into action. This program has saved the career of at least one nursing student.

“I was on the verge of quitting school until I joined this program,” said Lieutenant Hahn. “I got to see what it’s really like to be a nurse. I got to get my hands dirty. That is what sold me.”

The lieutenant actually recruited Cadet Hess to the ROTC program while serving as a gold bar recruiter. He graduated nursing school at Virginia’s Radford University in 2002. If all goes well, Cadet Hess will graduate next year.

“It’s so cool that not only did she end up in Germany, but she’s also at the same hospital ward as me,” he said. “I recruited her and she’s going to graduate in four years, which isn’t easy. It’s very exciting to see.”

A typical day for Cadet Hess is to report to work at 7:45 p.m., work her 12-hour shift, study, make presentations on certain topics and perhaps find time for a nap.

“We don’t baby them,” said Lieutenant Hahn. “We keep them busy. It’s not a vacation, though they do get to take a couple of short trips.”

Even with the training demands, Cadet Hess said there is no place she’d rather learn. She gets the European experience and the opportunity to learn at the epicenter of military medicine.

“I had heard so much about Landstuhl Regional Medical Center,” she said. “I thought, ‘What better place to go?’”