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Happy Nurses Week! Meet Kathleen Stayman, RN PA Department of Health – South Central District Office

  1. Why did you decide to enter the military?Kathleen Stayman
    I entered for the educational opportunities the military offers.
  1. What were the educational opportunities you pursued?
    I received my Nursing Diploma from Albert Einstein School of Nursing.  I continued on for my Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Millersville University of Pennsylvania.  I then went on for an MBA from York College of Pennsylvania.
  1. Was military nursing what you thought it would be?
    Military nursing comprises the dual responsibility of developing a military officer while developing the skills of a nurse and a leader. When I reported to my first duty station at Philadelphia Naval Hospital, I was not prepared for the type of staff I would encounter. I already had 10 years of experience as an RN and just finished my BSN.  I worked many years at a huge Philadelphia Medical center. My staff at the Naval Hospital comprised of 18-20 years old corpsmen, who were eager to learn.  Part of my job was to refine their skills.  Many of these young men would go on to operational medicine and save the lives of sailors and marines. At the time, I was unaware that I would witness my dedication in training these men and women during Desert storm and Afghanistan and afterwards I was overwhelmed when I realized the impact my efforts had in saving the lives of our troops.
  1. What was military nursing like?
    A few experiences stand out in my memory. I remember one time, I was caring for a critically-ill Afghan translator.  As I was leaving the hospital one night, I saw that he was on the list to be transferred.  I stopped by his bed to wish him well.  Despite the fact that this man suffered from severe blast injuries to his right side, he stood, in and of itself this was no easy task.  Then he hugged me and said thank you.  This simple action was not the usual for a man from this part of the world.  I was overwhelmed because I realized that this simple gesture, that we take for granted in our culture, meant that a caring nurse will always go noticed and be appreciated.
  1. How is military nursing different from civilian nursing?
    The actual medical/surgical path for an injured warrior is actually more complicated than civilian care.  The warrior receives several stabilizing surgeries and moves through a series of care echelons until he reaches the states and begins the long recovery process.  Combat wounds are very dirty and the warrior needs many surgeries over an extended period of time before recovery is complete.
  1. Is there a difference in the working relationship, respect, collaboration with physicians in military vs civilian?
    The rank structure within the military introduces a different respect factor in the working relationship.  The rank structure places you on equal ground with other military members.  Those who outrank must still give military respect to the rank rather than the profession.
  1. What challenges did you face in your military career?
    There were times when my military, civilian, and family demands would not blend.  It was my family that was the foundation of my career.  They were there when I had to leave and they were there with open arms when I returned.

Would I do it again?  Absolutely!  The military strengthened my integrity, my decision-making ability, and enhance my nursing skills.

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