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DiversityNursing Blog

New program garners nurse’s aide certifications for soldiers

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, Nov 20, 2013 @ 12:53 PM

By Madison Lozano

Nurse's aideSgt. Angela Hughes was always interested in nursing, but wasn’t up to the role right out of high school.

Instead, she entered the Army as a supply soldier. Though she loved her job, after 15 years, Hughes developed carpal tunnel syndrome and was moved to Fort Hood’s Warrior Transition Brigade to prepare to leave military service.

Hughes is one of several soldiers taking part in a new brigade program to earn nurse’s aide certifications before they transition out of the Army.

The Gateway program runs in coordination with Skillpoint Alliance, an Austin-based nonprofit that provides training and education to job seekers. This is the first time Skillpoint has worked in the Fort Hood area.

On Monday, four brigade soldiers trained at the Hill Country Nursing and Rehab facility in Copperas Cove. The center is where they spent 40 hands-on clinical hours, in addition to the 60 classroom hours needed to earn the certification. The group will graduate from the program on Friday.

“It’s a great opportunity for soldiers who are transitioning ... at no cost to them,” said Anthony Thomas, the brigade transition coordinator. He was contacted by Skillpoint and served as a liaison between the brigade and the nonprofit.

“We try to accommodate soldiers’ career goals through job fairs and workshops,” he said, but this program is the first of its kind for the brigade.

Bethany Paul, Skillpoint’s Gateway program coordinator, worked directly with the students during the four-week training period.

“My job is to get them graduated and employed,” she said. Her organization has an 80 percent employment rate within the first 30 days after students graduate from the program.

Paul’s role required her to select the students and track them throughout the program to ensure successful completion.

“We love being able to serve this population,” she said. “I’m excited to be able to give back.”

Skillpoint also offers mock interviews, resume support and networking opportunities, Paul said.

The brigade soldiers have been pleased with the outcome of the program.

“At the beginning, I was disappointed,” Hughes said of leaving the Army. But now that she’s had time to accept the idea, she is excited to move on and work in nursing.

The patients have been her biggest joy of working at the rehab center.

“The residents are great to be with,” she said. “It’s always something new every day.”

Hughes will exit the Army in May 2014 and is looking forward to spending more time with her three children. “Things slow down a bit when you get out,” she said. She’s glad her post-military life will still require interaction with people on a daily basis.

Resident Eva Xindaris loved working with the brigade soldiers.

“They’re very thorough,” she said. “They’re not rushing.” Though Xindaris is sad to see them go, she knows there will be more in the future.

For Staff Sgt. Jennifer Adams-Ward, working in the facility has been a pleasure.

“It’s a joy to see me put a smile on someone’s face,” she said. She loves to help people, and the residents at the Hill Country Rehab Center have treated her well. “I enjoy learning the story of them and what they’re done in their lives,” she said.

Adams-Ward’s path differs from her fellow classmates. She will not be transitioning out of the Army. She is a medic, currently serving as the medical noncommissioned officer of the brigade’s 1st Battalion. Earning her nurse’s aide certification is one step towards becoming a registered nurse and an Army officer.

At this time, the brigade and Skillpoint are offering an electrician apprenticeship program too. Thomas hopes to add more options in the coming year. The Gateway program is also open to spouses and dependents.

“It’s been very successful,” Thomas said. “I appreciate the fact that they’re giving soldiers this (chance).”

Source: Fort Hood Herald

Topics: soldiers, training, career, military, nurse's aid

Obama Signs New Military Sexual Violence Provisions Into Law

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 @ 02:02 PM

SWANlogoAfter much anticipation across the nation, President Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. In the end, it included 19 amendments to significantly reform Department of Defense sexual assault and sexual harassment policies. This landmark bill has the largest number of sexual violence provisions ever signed into law, and represents the culmination of more than 18 months worth of relentless advocacy work by the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN). We want to thank the many veterans and service members who shared their voices to demand policy change this year, including Ayana Harrell, Nicole McCoy, Cindy McNally, Ruth Moore, Laura Sellinger and so many others.

The NDAA is an enormous bill that specifies the budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense (DOD). It also contains sections that deal with military issues ranging from the total number of troops to retiree benefits, and everything in between. It is one of the primary vehicles used by Congress to provide oversight and mandate change within the military. Every year, SWAN partners with key members of Congress to provide bipartisan legislative recommendations to both the House and Senate to improve the welfare of service women and women veterans.

This year, SWAN was able to help introduce into the bill a record number of provisions based on our policy agenda, chief among them to improve the way the military handles sexual assault and sexual harassment in the ranks. Other provisions were also included that improve health care for service women and military families. Specifically, the law now provides for:

  • Prohibiting the military from recruiting anyone convicted of a sex offense
  • Mandatory separation of convicted sex offenders
  • Insurance coverage for abortions in cases of rape or incest for service women and military family members
  • Retention of restricted report documentation for 50 years if so desired by the victim
  • The creation of “Special Victims Units” to improve investigation, prosecution and victim support in connection with child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault cases
  • Allowing victims to return to active duty after separation to help prosecute sex offenders
  • The creation of an independent review panel comprised of civilian and military members that will closely examine the way that the DOD investigates, prosecutes, and adjudicates sexual assaults
  • Required sexual assault prevention training in pre-command and command courses for officers
  • Improved data collection and reporting by the military on sexual assault and sexual harassment cases
  • Annual command climate assessment surveys to track individual attitudes toward sexual assault and sexual harassment
  • A review of unrestricted sexual assault reports and the nature of any subsequent separations of victims who made those reports
  • Notification to service members of the options available for the correction of military records due to any retaliatory personnel action after making a report of sexual assault or sexual harassment
  • Requirement for DOD to establish a policy for comprehensive sexual harassment prevention and response
  • Language that will allow better oversight and tracking of DOD’s implementation of sexual assault provisions from prior Defense Authorizations in order to ensure they are being enforced properly

Legislating reform of DOD policies can be a difficult, complicated and sometimes painfully slow process, and is only one of several tools SWAN uses to make institutional change happen. Ensuring those policies are properly implemented by the services and fairly practiced in individual units “where the rubber meets the road” is a continuous process for us. Calls from active duty troops and veterans on our Helpline continue to inform and guide our work. We are grateful to be able to provide help to service members and veterans in need. We are also thankful for our incredible coalition of military, veterans and civil rights organizations, the members of Congress who have partnered with us, and each one of you who have supported us this year. In order to eradicate sexual assault and sexual harassment we must continue to work together to transform military culture. The passage of the 2013 NDAA is another critical step in moving the military one step closer to change.

As we move forward with this year’s policy and legislative agenda, and prepare for our second annual Summit on Military Sexual Violence, SWAN will continue to hold our civilian and military leadership accountable for the welfare of our nation’s service members and veterans. We will continue to fight for changes in the execution of military justice for victims of sexual assault, service members’ access to civil courts, and comprehensive reform of VA policy regarding “Military Sexual Trauma” compensation claims. With your support, we look forward to continued success as we begin work on the 2014 NDAA.

* This article is from Service Women’s Action Network

Topics: sexual violence, SWAN, Department of Defense, military, law

Patient Caring Touch System Empowers Military Nurses

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Thu, Jan 03, 2013 @ 01:31 PM

Several years ago, Lt. General Patricia Horoho, the U.S. Army’s first female and first nurse surgeon general, saw what she perceived as a loss of nursing staff, at all levels, throughout the combined military forces. She started asking nurses, “Why are you leaving?” Though Horoho expected answers like “Because I have been on three tours in Afghanistan,” the actual answers came as a surprise: “Because I don’t have enough voice in my practice.”

This feedback was the impetus for the Patient Caring Touch System (PCTS), which was developed after much research and consulting with successful civilian counterparts, and then implemented in all branches of the armed services.

“The focus of PCTS is to provide all nurses in the system a voice in their professional practice instead of having it dictated by leadership policy and procedures,” remarked Col. Patrick Ahearne, deputy commander for health services and nursing at Fort Carson, in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Instead, they help develop those policies through the unit practice councils (UPC), a cornerstone of the PCTS.”

“In the field, we have 96 percent survival rate for our wounded warriors--our trauma care is bar none,” said Mary Shannon Baker, RN, PCTS ambassador at Madigan Army Medical Center, near Tacoma, Wash. “Nurses were coming back from deployment and had little means to implement the skills and techniques they had learned and seen to be effective in the field.”

Moving to a shared governance system was a huge leap for a hierarchical military culture.

“PCTS is a fundamental shift in the ways the Army does nursing,” she added. “PCTS really gives every member of the team an equal say at the table. As a private, you can come to the UPC and we listen just as intensely as we would to a higher ranked person. If you have an evidence-based practice you want to put in place, we can do that now. We are smarter as a whole; every member can contribute to a better outcome.”

“The UPC is really the core of PCTS,” added Ahearne. “As soon as the nurses see positive results, when they bring an idea to the leadership and it is implemented, it is almost magic. As a nurse executive, it is comforting to me to have the larger brain trust of nursing out there thinking about what we can do to improve every day.”

As an example, the first thing Fort Carson Evans Army Hospital staff brought to the UPC was the issue that pushing discharged patients--many of whom were still recovering from surgery--in wheelchairs over the tiled floor to the hospital exit was uncomfortable for the patients. Every space between tiles created a bump. Action was taken to quickly carpet a path to the exit.

In addition to the unit practice councils, other elements of the PCTS system include:

Peer feedback: Nurses at every level participate in peer feedback to improve their practice and incorporate professional development.

“Before PCTS no one ever sat me down and asked where I saw myself in the organization in five years,” remarked Baker.

Core values: At Madigan, each unit has a core values representative and every month there is a core values event.

“We talk about the fact that we don’t just have a job, we have a mission,” added Baker. “The nurses have come up with some fun ways to bring the core values into everyday conversation. For instance, they made stickers of each value and put it on every can of soda in the unit, so if you buy a can of soda you have an ethic on the front of it. It keeps nurses thinking about things that are important to us.”

Optimized performance: To achieve optimized performance, the Armed Forces are now collecting data at all levels on issues such as patient falls and infection rates as well as nurse satisfaction, work load and absenteeism. The data is shared with nurses so they can engage in improving outcomes.

“We just had a nurse do a project connecting nursing-initiated orders with evidence-based practice,” stated Ahearne. “Now every nursing-initiated order has evidence behind it. We don’t need physicians’ orders for these things because the evidence shows that it is a best practice.”

Skill building: While there were always an abundance of educational opportunities, many opportunities were missed because the old system counted on an already-stretched-thin nurse leader to disseminate the information. With PCTS, a unit level nurse takes on the responsibility to look ahead and find out which opportunities would most benefit the unit.

Another significant part of PCTS is that nurses work in care teams: a lead RN who is paired with either another RN or an LPN.

“This team approach has been such a positive thing. Two sets of eyes are always better than one and now, if you have a crisis, you don’t have to find someone else to cover your patients. And when you need lunch, you are already prepared for that at the beginning of the day,” reflected Baker.

“If you have healthy, engaged, and happy nurses, it is just a by-product that you get better patient outcomes and satisfaction rates,” she explained. “PCTS is about the nurses and the nurses are about the patients. It is a cycle. We didn’t have to make a patient outcomes program, we just had to create a program to empower nurses.”

Copyright © 2012. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Topics: PCTS, empower, voice, nursing, military

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