Making a difference, one patient at a time

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lynne Neveu
  • Public Affairs
Team Vance nurses and aeromedical services technicians wear many hats to keep the military community healthy, from responding to an in-flight emergency or comforting a sick child to performing records reviews and giving vaccinations.
The 71st Medical Group joins medical professionals across the nation today to Thursday in recognizing the service and dedication of its nurses. In addition to showing appreciation to the seven nurses assigned here, the 71st MDG also spotlights the contributions of its 19 aeromedical services technicians.
"Nurses and technicians are the backbone of the military medical service, not only here at Vance, but across the breadth of the Department of Defense," said Col. John McCafferty, 71st MDG commander. "Without their exceptional service and dedication to duty, countless careers and lives would be lost."
The technicians and nurses here work together to care for the military community. Many said it is the patients who are the best part of their job.
"It's the personal connection you develop with people that makes the nursing profession so fulfilling," said Lt. Col. Marla Buckles, 71st MDG chief nurse and 71st Aerospace Medicine Flight commander.
This personal connection can sometimes get lost in today's medical facilities. Colonel Buckles said the increase in medical technology can sometimes lead to the patient being lost in a sea of machines.
"We live so fast today that we tend to not involve ourselves with others too much," she said. "It's similar to an episode of 'ER,' where we see a patient surrounded by machines and the focus is on the technology rather than the person. A nurse who develops a bond with a patient not only takes care of the person's physical health, but his emotional well-being as well."
A commitment to caring and strong interpersonal skills are a nurse's most valuable traits, and they form the foundation of a successful nursing career, she said.
"Without a positive patient-nurse relationship, the patient may not hear the education you have to offer," said Maj. Rose Popovich, 71st MDG Health and Wellness Center health promotions manager.
Throughout the Team Vance nurse corps, it was agreed that helping people every day, as well as the vast opportunities available, are the keys to job satisfaction.
During her career, Major Popovich said she has cared for medevac patients as a flight nurse, comforted the sick and injured in a deployed environment and increased quality of life in her role as a health prevention manager.
"There are so many avenues to travel, so many areas to work in," said Capt. Melissa Laughrey, 71st MDG adult acute care nurse practitioner.
As a nurse practitioner here, Captain Laughrey works with the two primary care physicians to provide comprehensive patient care. She said she answers patients' questions about medications and referrals, calls patients with test results and tracks mammograms to ensure those who need the exam have had one. Additionally, Captain Laughrey can see patients as a provider, helping the clinic maintain high customer service during times of peak demand.
"I enjoy helping people to feel better," she said. "We can help take care of a situation not everyone wants to be in."
One member of Captain Laughrey's primary care team is Senior Airman Nicole Asberry, 71st MDG aerospace medical technician, who was named 71st MDG Airman of the Year.
Airman Asberry said she ensures the doctor's patients are checked in on time, schedules appointments, reviews records, assists with procedures and is a member of the ambulance crew rotation.
"The best part of my job is the smiling patients and the great team I work with," Airman Asberry said.
"Nursing is a demanding job," said Major Popovich. "But all it takes to keep you going is for one patient to share her appreciation with a few kind words. It makes everything else worth it."