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Shaping the next generation of enlisted nurses

Story by Wesley Elliott

U.S. Army Medical Command

Joint Base San Antonio, Texas (May 11, 2018) — Advanced Individual Training (AIT) Platoon Sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Adam Wade had a variety of experiences in the National Guard and the Army but working the bedside in Landstuhl, Germany, allowed him to realize why nursing and healthcare was what he wanted to do.

“When you read the patient movement request that outlines the herculean efforts that they pour into these Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines downrange, that was the moment I really knew that this was for me,” said Wade.

An Army practical nursing specialist, 68C, Wade’s career has followed a winding path that first started in the National Guard as an aircraft electrician in a medevac unit.

Fixing aircraft was becoming repetitious, “you follow the manual, there isn’t new research being done, the physics of electricity doesn’t change.” Then his cousin, an Army lab technician, 68K, convinced him to look into the practical nursing specialist, 68C, in the reserves.

During the 68C course he met his wife and after the course he decided to transition to the active duty Army.

“Strangely enough I thought I was going on active duty to do nursing work but back then it was an additional identifier, so I got slotted as a 68W with 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division at Fort bliss, Texas. It turned out to be a really good experience, I got to learn a lot about outpatient treatment,” said Wade.

After Fort Bliss he reenlisted to be stationed at Landstuhl, Germany, and work inpatient care for the first time.

The first question he was asked was, “were are you coming from and are you a med-chanic?
The question was in reference to 68 series personnel normally being directed to maintain the Field Litter Ambulance vehicles in the motor pool and rarely seeing to patients. Wade had done outpatient care and was allowed to work bedside in the ICU.

“That is where my true appreciation for what we do really hit home. Receiving people from Kandahar, Bagdad, and Bagram, that was really motivating to be an expert in your craft. We don’t see them in the shape they do downrange, but when they get to us they are still pretty fresh, so it gave me an appreciation for what they do to get them to us,” said Wade.

“I think I’ve seen the pinnacle of my career as it was not just the work but the exceptional people I served with, civilians, Soldiers, officers; everyone I served with knew why they came to work every day. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel that way again and it’s a little disheartening but great to know that I might be part of creating that experience for someone else,” said Wade.

After five years in Germany, Wade was recruited to be an AIT platoon sergeant which are transitioning to drill sergeants after the platoon sergeants complete a two-week conversion course.

Wade explained that his company trains nurses, operating room technicians, and respiratory therapists, his role is not as an instructor but the one who enforces standards and disciple. Time is a precious resource and how can he instill soldier values, discipline, and training with the least impact on their academics.

“The people that come through the pipeline may be the one who could care for my family someday. I am always aware of the balance, creating good Soldiers without negatively impacting their training as a nurse, retention, or competency. This is always in my head when I consider taking their time for corrective action,” said Wade.

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