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NEWS | Sept. 21, 2016

San Antonio Association of Operating Room Nurses embraces Navy nursing

NMTSC Public Affairs

Two Navy nurses from Navy Medicine Training Support Center, or NMTSC, and the Medical Education and Training Campus, or METC, from Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, were guest speakers at a gathering of the local chapter of Association of Operating Room Nurses, or AORN, Sept. 12.


Lt. Cmdr. Kirby Jahnke is the Navy service lead for the METC Surgical Technologist Program, and Lt. Cmdr. Annissa Cromer is assigned to NMTSC as the assistant Navy service lead for the METC Surgical Technologist Program.


Both are Navy operating room, or OR, nurses, also known as perioperative nurses. They addressed the gathering of approximately 35 local operating room nurses and nursing students, explaining the role of Navy perioperative nurses aboard ships and at hospitals and clinics in the U.S. and abroad.


“The event was a huge success,” said Lt. Kamalan Selvarajah, a Medical Service Corps officer and medical recruiter for Navy Recruiting District-San Antonio, or NRD-SA. “The knowledge of the speakers drew a larger than usual group of attendees. They all stayed through the entire presentation, were engaged, and asked many questions. At the end of the night, several young nurses approached me about joining the Navy, both in the reserves and active duty.”


Selvarajah arranged the event to heighten awareness of Navy Medicine opportunities for OR nurses.


“One area in which we are experiencing a critical shortage is the perioperative nursing specialty,” Selvarajah said. “It is considered one of the ‘Big 5’ medical recruiting priorities by the commander of Navy Recruiting Command.”


The night began with a surprise for one AORN nurse when Selvarajah announced that Crystal Reeves, a perioperative nurse with 20 years of experience, would soon become Lt. j.g. Reeves, U.S. Navy Reserves.

Cromer and Jahnke followed with their presentations.


“I discussed the benefits of being an Navy OR nurse – the different opportunities including deployments, seeing other countries, caring for the wounded warriors and their families, the bonuses, the humanitarian missions and disaster response missions” Cromer said. “There were questions, lots of participation and lots of interest, even from the nurses not able to join.” 

Cromer deployed on the USS Bataan (LHD 5), including Operation Unified Response, the disaster response for Haiti after the massive earthquake and aftershocks of 2010. She explained to the nurses the difference between a humanitarian deployment on a hospital ship, an actual disaster response deployment and an operational deployment.


“I told them that you might be an OR nurse, but you are not going to be stuck in an OR or a hospital or a clinic overseas,” Cromer said. “I explained how my Navy tours have been very different – that it’s not just about being in the OR suite or working bedside.” 

Cromer said several nurses and students approached her after the presentations, praising the presentation and information, and wanting to know more about Navy Medicine. “They were very, very receptive,” she said.


AORN President Ruben Barrios was one who was inspired by Cromer and Jahnke’s presentations.


“I had no idea what Navy OR nurses do,” said Barrios. “I was stunned to learn about all the different jobs and the various ports of call they’ve been to. I wish I was 30 years younger. I’d sign up myself.”