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Nurses and medical techs, backbone of AF Medicine

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, Air Force Deputy Surgeon General and chief, Air Force Nurse Corps, delivers keynote remarks at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., during a wreath laying at the Nurses Memorial for National Nurses and Medical Technicians Week, May 7, 2018. (Courtesy photo by Defense Health Agency Communications Division)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, Air Force Deputy Surgeon General and chief, Air Force Nurse Corps, delivers keynote remarks at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., during a wreath laying at the Nurses Memorial for National Nurses and Medical Technicians Week, May 7, 2018. (Courtesy photo by Defense Health Agency Communications Division)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jesus Antillon and Staff Sgt. Joseph Beard, medical technicians with the 11th Medical Group at Joint Base Andrews, Md., discuss patient care, April 5, 2018. (Defense Health Agency photo by Jamie Chirinos)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jesus Antillon and Staff Sgt. Joseph Beard, medical technicians with the 11th Medical Group at Joint Base Andrews, Md., discuss patient care, April 5, 2018. (Defense Health Agency photo by Jamie Chirinos)

Retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Ruthann Johns, a registered nurse at Malcom Grow Clinic, Joint Base Andrews, Md. (Defense Health Agency photo by Jamie Chirinos)

Retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Ruthann Johns, a registered nurse at Malcom Grow Clinic, Joint Base Andrews, Md. (Defense Health Agency photo by Jamie Chirinos)

FALLS CHURCH, VA. -- Medical organizations cannot succeed without nurses and medical technicians.

May 6 through May 12 is National Nurses and Medical Technicians Week, when we honor the contributions nurses and techs make to patient care.

Nurses and techs have played a vital role in Air Force Medicine since the founding of the Air Force Medical Service in 1949. Today, they serve in combat, during aeromedical evacuation, and in hospitals and clinics around the world as an indispensable part of our fighting force.

Serving in the Air Force as a nurse or tech is a challenging career path. They often have the most direct interaction with patients, and while they may not receive much recognition, they have long been integral components of U.S. military forces.

“We are warrior medics, first and foremost,” said Maj. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, Air Force Deputy Surgeon General and chief of the Air Force Nurse Corps, who spoke at a May 7 wreath laying ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery Nurses Memorial. “The contributions of nurses and technicians to military medicine are well known. This memorial and this cemetery serve as reminders of those contributions.”

Being a successful nurse or tech requires a specific mindset.

“A medical tech needs the willingness to persevere through any situation, a care and compassion mindset, and the ability to adapt, improvise and overcome,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Beard, a medical technician at Malcolm Grow Clinic, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. “The relationship with patients need to be personal and professional to maintain trust between the patient and caregiver.”

Nurses and techs form the backbone of medical care in the AFMS. When people are having their worst days, or when they are sick or injured, nurses and techs are the ones who have the most interactions with them, and are primarily responsible for carrying out the doctor’s instructions.

Air Force nurses and techs are up to the challenge.

“Being a nurse or tech is one of the hardest things you can ever do, but also the most rewarding,” said Ruthann Johns, a nurse at Malcolm Grow Clinic and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. “Every aspect of my career has been challenging in different ways, emotionally and physically at times. But every day is rewarding. Every day makes a difference.”

Talk to almost any nurse or medical technician, and they will tell you that their patients are the reason they come to work every day.

“Every nurse needs a desire to help others,” said Capt. Michelle Binder, a doctor of nursing practice student at the Uniformed Services University. “A good nurse must communicate well, which starts by listening well. Serving in the military will push you out of your comfort zone. You need courage and confidence to deliver the best possible care to your patients.”

Military nurses and technicians are often noted for their spirit of service to their patients. Whether on or off the battlefield, they display professionalism and leave lasting impacts through the lives they save.

“I’d like to just say thank you, to all nurses and technicians, past and present, who make military medicine what it is today. I am honored to recognize your efforts today, and grateful for all you do. You are selfless, you are devoted, you are compassionate and you possess an innovative spirit to care for our nation’s heroes.”

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