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59th Medical Wing’s weeklong observance celebrates nurses, technicians

By Robert Goetz | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | April 26, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —

“Leaning on Our Legacy to Remember Our Limitless Possibilities” will be the theme as the Joint Base San Antonio medical community celebrates the contributions of its nurses and technicians during the week beginning May 5.

The 59th Medical Wing’s Nurse-Tech Week will feature an array of activities, starting with “A Day in the Park” from 3-8 p.m. at Freedom Park near Brooke Army Medical Center and concluding with a fun run/walk from 8-11 a.m. May 11 at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center.

“The purpose of this weeklong celebration is to raise awareness of the value of nurses and medical technicians and also help educate the public about the role nurses and technicians play in health care,” said Capt. Shauna Sokolowski, 359th Medical Group Family Health clinical nurse.

The week’s theme aptly describes the many opportunities awaiting nurses and technicians in the health care field, Sokolowski said.

“As nurses and technicians we have limitless opportunities,” she said. “If we get tired of doing 12-hour inpatient shifts, we can work in a clinic setting. There are also different specialty fields such as neurology, intensive care units, trauma, surgery and many others.”

The theme also acknowledges the contributions of the nurses and technicians who paved the way for today’s health care professionals, said Maj. Carla Cox, 59th MDW chief nurse fellow.

“Our health care system is constantly changing and growing, and as we continue to transition to the Defense Health Agency, we will need to rely on some of our predecessors to influence our way forward,” she said. “We have invited several retired nurses to join us for the week’s events, and all nurses and techs – active duty, civilians and contractors – and their families and friends are invited to participate in the wing events.”

This year’s observance marks the first full week of events from the wing, Cox said.

“Traditionally, each group celebrates Nurse-Tech Week, as they still are doing this year,” she said. “However, I was determined to have a more joint/collaborative focus and ensure all nurses and technicians at JBSA are celebrated, to include those at Air Education and Training Command, Air Force Personnel Center, Air Force Medical Operations Agency, and our Army and Navy partners at Brooke Army Medical Center.”

Kicking off Nurse-Tech Week, “A Day in the Park” will feature food, games, a bounce house and a dunk tank. The week’s events will also include breakfast/lunch and learn sessions and poster displays May 6 and 9 at BAMC, with concurrent video teleconferencing in room 0C067 at Wilford Hall, and Family Night from 5-7 p.m. May 7-8 at Altitude Trampoline Park, 11075 Interstate 10. The 359th MDG at JBSA-Randolph will honor nurses and technicians with breakfast and lunch on May 6, lunch on May 8 and a cake on May 10.

Breakfast/lunch and learn panels on May 6 – from 8:30-9:30 a.m. in the BAMC auditorium and from noon to 1 p.m. in the Ortho Conference Room at BAMC – tie in with Nurse-Tech Week’s theme, said Capt. Eric Becker, 959th Medical Operations Squadron clinical registered nurse for perioperative services.

“As military health care continues to evolve with the Defense Health Agency, new technology and new practices, it is important that we remember our past,” he said. “The topic that will be discussed at Monday's event will be lateral violence, which years ago was not studied, let alone thought to be an issue.”

Lateral violence was thought of as a rite of passage for health care personnel to be hazed, Becker said.

“We are going to have panel members who retired from active duty who can speak to this, and how they handled those situations at that time,” he said. “They will also offer suggestions as well as answer questions from the attendees as to how those practices can be utilized going forward into the future.”

Breakfast/lunch and learn sessions on May 9 – from 7:30-8:30 a.m. in the BAMC auditorium and from noon-1 p.m. in the BAMC conference room – will feature Spence Byrum, CEO of HRS Consulting, who will talk about the role of nurses and technicians in a high reliability organization.

National Nurses Week is an annual event that coincides with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, who was born May 12, 1820. It is a fitting tribute to nurses and technicians, said Capt. Amanda Bynum, 559th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Flight and Operational Medicine Flight commander.

“They are the ones on the frontline administering trusted care within Joint Base San Antonio every single day,” she said. “They are in facilities all across San Antonio taking care of patients at all times of the day. They are the ones identifying the symptoms and communicating the severity to the doctor when you can’t find the right words to say.”

Sokolowski called nurses and technicians the “backbone” of military medical facilities.

“They ensure that the clinic runs smoothly by assisting the providers with treatments, callbacks to patients, telephone triage, education and providing health histories and vital signs prior to the encounter with the physician,” she said. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do as much as we do for our patients if it were to all fall on the providers.”

Nurses and technicians also provide invaluable emotional support to patients and their families, Bynum said.

“They can guide you to making informed decisions and also be your biggest advocate when trying to get your voice heard,” she said. “The nurses and technicians within the JBSA community help keep our active duty population healthy so that they can be ‘fit to fight’ to meet mission readiness goals. We are integral to the Air Force’s mission and take the responsibility seriously to render safe and effective care each and every time.”