Two Navy nurses from Navy Medicine Training Support Center (NMTSC) and the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) in San Antonio were guest speakers at a gathering of the local chapter of Association of Operating Room Nurses (AORN) Sept. 12.
Lt. Cmdr. Kirby Jahnke is assigned to METC and is the Navy service lead for the METC Surgical Technologist Program, and Lt. Cmdr. Annissa Cromer is assigned to NMTSC and is the assistant Navy service lead for the METC Surgical Technologist Program.
Both are Navy operating room (O.R.) nurses, also known as perioperative nurses.
They addressed the gathering of approximately 35 local O.R. nurses and nursing students, explaining the role of Navy perioperative nurses aboard a ship, 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 (MSC) officer and medical recruiter for Navy Recruiting District San Antonio (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 O.R. 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 Commander, Navy Recruiting Command (CNRC)."
The night began with a surprise for one AORN nurse when Selvarajah announced Crystal Reeves, a perioperative nurse with 20 years of experience, would soon become Lt. j.g. Reeves, U.S. Navy Reserve.
Cromer and Jahnke followed with their presentations.
"I discussed the benefits of being an O.R. Navy 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 aboard amphibious assault ship USS Battan (LHD 5)and participated in Operation Unified Response, the disaster response for Haiti after the massive earthquake and aftershocks of 2009. 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 O.R. nurse, but you are not going to be stuck in an O.R. 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 O.R. 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 O.R. 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."
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