BAGHDAD - How do four different nurses from three different places around the United States meet in Iraq? Well the Army Medical Department system called the Professional Officer Filler System, which is able to track Army medical personnel requirements as they relate to the readiness for deploying Army units. This system chooses personnel based on skill sets and prior deployments and places them into a unit who are supporting missions around the world. This very complex system is what makes this story so unique.
Four Army Nurse Corps Officers are currently deployed to Iraq with the 47th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Lewis Washington: Col. Greg Kidwell (Ft. Lewis, Wash.), Maj. John Taylor (Ft. Sill, Okla.), Maj. Kevin Snyder (Ft. Knox, Ky.), and 1st Lt. Michael Robertson (Ft. Lewis, Wash.). These Army Nurses' mutual bond was discovered through conversations about attending Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tenn.
The 47th CSH is a Level III Hospital which has medical and surgical capability similar to any hospital in the U.S. serving a medium sized city. Their most basic mission is to stop the bleeding and pain, and then evacuate the wounded soldier from theater. The 47th CSH is currently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We took time to talk to with these outstanding Americans about their experiences as Army Nurse Corps Officers and their experiences while attending APSU.
Col. Kidwell (APSU '78), the Deputy Commander for Nursing with the 47th CSH, let us know his most cherished and honorable duty is to provide life saving nursing care to the wounded and sometimes dying Soldiers. When asked "How well did your nursing program prepare you to become an Army nurse?" Col. Kidwell's thoughts were, "Nursing training was great, but school did not prepare me for my current job. Only experience and some Army training prepared me. When I was in the Baghdad ER, I thought I was prepared, but I was not prepared for the psychological and emotional stress of having all of these casualties." Maj. Snyder and Maj. Taylor said, "APSU gave them a good foundation in nursing."
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Robertson (APSU '06) is currently deployed with his wife who is also a nurse deployed with the 47th CSH. Col Kidwell noted that he has been apart from his wife, Maj. Kristine Kidwell, Texas Army National Guard Aviator, for about four of the last eight years due to their military service. Col. Kidwell stated, "My wife has deployed twice and I am currently on my second deployment to Iraq; this is not an easy life and demands a lot of family commitments." Maj. Taylor (APSU '93), Nurse Anesthetist for 47th CSH said it best, "Teamwork helps you get through."
"As a nurse in the United States Army, it is fundamentally important to stay clinically competent. Clinical competency and thinking outside the box are pivotal to patient success...seconds count in the life of hero's" says Maj. Snyder (APSU '97), Emergency Room Head Nurse, 47th CSH. The most compelling thought came from Col. Kidwell who said, "...after 28 years in the Army I have not ever been assigned with any of my APSU friends - now here, in a combat zone, on another continent, I find that there are four of us in the same outfit." These nurses have had an outstanding foundation and are a great reflection of our countries current education system.