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    I Am Navy Medicine – and Perioperative Nurse – Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Kaster

    I Am Navy Medicine – and Perioperative Nurse – Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Kaster

    Photo By Douglas Stutz | Bedside manner at the ready... Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Kaster, Naval Hospital Bremerton Main...... read more read more

    When the official notification was shared announcing the new specialty leaders for Navy Medicine’s perioperative nursing community, it took a long minute for the results to sink in.

    “I was surprised and honored. It took me a while to accept that I had actually been selected. Afterward, I was filled with a lot of excitement,” said Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Kaster, Naval Hospital Bremerton Main Operating Room department head, on his selection for assistant specialty leader.

    For Kaster, a Robbinsdale, Minnesota native, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, 2009 graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and 2018 University of Minnesota graduate with a Master of Business Administration, the selection further bolstered his commitment to a career in Navy Medicine of 13 years and counting.

    After finishing nursing school, he became a Navy Nurse Corps officer using the direct accession process.

    “In high school, I developed a desire to serve in the military. But I also wanted to attend college for nursing. In nursing school, I learned about opportunities to serve as a nurse in the military, and it seemed like a perfect fit. I chose the Navy because my Uncle Mike was an impactful role model who had a successful career as a Navy A-6 Intruder pilot,” stated Kaster, readily acknowledging that his military service has provided a host of professional, educational, and personal possibilities.

    “Navy Medicine has taken me farther than I ever thought it would. The professional advancement opportunities are unparalleled. Without the Navy, I’m quite sure I never would have completed a master’s degree. The diverse experiences afforded by the Navy are also second to none. I have been stationed in Maryland, Okinawa, Virginia and Washington. I’ve been able to deploy to Djibouti and Afghanistan. Responding to the COVID-19 crisis in New York on [hospital ship] USNS Comfort [T-AH 20] is also an experience I’ll never forget,” related Kaster.

    His affinity for the Main OR is evidenced throughout his assignments, where he has been staff nurse at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Telemetry Unit; Expeditionary Medical Facility Djibouti in the medical-surgical unit; with the post anesthesia care unit at WRNMMC, at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa Main OR; and in the Main OR at the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit, Kandahar, Afghanistan. He’s also filled roles as the business manager for the Main OR and Sterile Processing department division officer at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.

    “I am passionate about perioperative nursing and extremely grateful for the opportunities that have been provided to me as perioperative nurse. I’ve long been inspired by many selfless periop leaders. For the first time in my career, I felt like I had amassed enough experience and education to allow me to give back to the perioperative community. I want ensure the specialty continues to remain involved in advancing Navy Medicine,” Kaster said.

    Kaster admitted that a perioperative nurse is more commonly known as an operating room nurse.

    “OR nurses typically function as circulating nurses during surgeries, managing the overall nursing care of a patient in surgery and prioritizing patient safety above all else. Perioperative nursing, however, is a specialty that focuses on the care of patients before, during and immediately after surgery,” explained Kaster, noting that Navy perioperative nurses attend a 12-week specialized training program, followed by an additional three months of clinical orientation. He asserts that advanced training equips perioperative nurses with the knowledge and skills to ensure successful, safe outcomes for surgical patients.

    Kaster’s specialty is one of 17 practiced by Navy Nurse Corps officers, covering a wide range of patient-centered care from pediatric to family practice to critical care to mental health and public health. But his dedication, drive and desire as a perioperative nurse made him stand out amongst his peers.

    Both Kaster, along with Cmdr. Lacy Gee, a former Naval Hospital Bremerton Main OR staff member selected as Perioperative Specialty Leader, were noted to be “competitively selected and bring with them a vast amount of clinical and leadership experience that has resulted from having served in a variety of diverse assignments and positions with ever-increasing responsibilities, advanced certifications, research, and presentations to advance the practice of perioperative nursing.”

    “Being a part of the orchestrated teamwork that occurs in the operating room is very rewarding,” Kaster remarked. “Surgeries simply cannot happen unless everyone - surgeon, anesthesia provider, surgical technologist and perioperative nurse - is on the same page. Perioperative nursing provides relatively fast gratification given that patients usually arrive in the OR with a problem and typically leave with the issue resolved.”

    Coincidentally, the second week of November is annually celebrated as Perioperative Nurses Week, a recognition obviously of more than passing interest to Kaster and the rest of the periop team assigned to NHB.

    “I’m extremely proud of the team of ten perioperative nurses we have here. I know they provide our patients with the highest standards of care in the operating room. Their compassion and commitment to safety inspires me daily. Over the past year, this team of nurses played an essential role in the performance of over 900 surgical cases across eight surgical specialties,” said Kaster, including that the best part of his career has been meeting and working with so many incredibly intelligent, kind and selfless people. “The diversity of experiences and culture of continuous professional development has also been greatly valued.”

    When asked to sum up his experience in Navy Medicine in one sentence, Kaster replied, “I’m very grateful for the incredibly rewarding experience I’ve had in Navy Medicine.”



    Date Taken: 11.29.2022
    Date Posted: 11.29.2022 10:56
    Story ID: 434115
    Location: BREMERTON , WA, US 

    Web Views: 422
    Downloads: 1