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One Airman thinks big for better patient care

  • Published
  • By Shireen Bedi
  • Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs
Being the youngest ranking active duty Airman in the small clinic at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, does not stop Staff Sgt. Kaitlyn Callahan from exceeding expectations to deliver the best patient care.

As a physical medicine technician, Callahan knows she plays an important role in getting her fellow Airmen back in the fight. Callahan stands out in her commitment to looking at the big picture for ways to improve her clinic’s capabilities. She exemplifies the Trusted Care principle of “every Airman, every day, a problem solver.”

“Many patients come into our clinic with back pain and other issues related to improper running form,” said Callahan. “I helped develop and launch a few programs to help Airmen build their core strength and understand proper running form. This includes things like gait training and cool down techniques to prevent injury.”

Callahan’s ability to find innovative ways to expand the reach of the clinic’s physical therapy service made a big impact on the clinic and their patients. Not only did she treat nearly 7,000 patients in one year, she had oversight of two flight safety programs and 14,000 medical records reviews, improving the efficiency and quality of the clinic.

“For me, it is all about the patients and finding better ways to deliver care,” said Callahan. “Improving how the clinic runs its programs makes such a big impact on the staff and, most importantly, the patients.”

Dedication to her patients drives Callahan to go above and beyond her assigned duties, managing a large caseload despite a labor shortage at her clinic. But her workload never gets in the way of her focus on the patients.

“Seeing a patient improving is what really motivates me,” said Callahan. “I always strive to go out of my way for my patients. I want them to feel good about being in our clinic, and that they can trust me to give them to tools they need to be successful advocates for their own health.”

Callahan is able carry out the Trusted Care principle of continuous process improvement because of the team she works with. She relies on them to improve the efficiency of the clinic and implement programs.

“I value my team’s input and encourage them to express their ideas,” said Callahan. “Together we are able to come up with better ways to implement work improvements.”

Callahan’s care for others goes beyond Malmstrom’s clinic doors. She also volunteers aiding disabled children and served as an Honor Guard member.

Her focus on delivering patient-centered care, upholding the principles of Trusted Care, is why she was one of 12 Airmen recognized by the Air Force as Outstanding Airman of the Year for 2017. She was promoted in January this year and is already eager to take on new leadership roles.