ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Since 1954, National Nurses Week has been recognized nation-wide from May 6 through May 12. It began as a celebration of the birthday of Florence Nightingale, widely known as the founder of modern nursing, and later grew to become a national event designed to recognize the contributions of the men and women serving as nurses and medical technicians since the American Revolution.
According to the Department of Defense, there are currently more than 28,000 nurses and technicians serving in the U.S. military and Defense Health Agency. Today, more than 30 of those professionals are assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing and care for the active duty military members, dependents and veterans entrusted to them.
“I think Nurses Week is important to recognize because we are constantly trying our best to take care of others on top of taking care of our own, and it can be a lot sometimes,” said Linsay Raymond, a licensed practical nurse assigned to the 97th Medical Group pediatric clinic. “Taking a week out of the year to highlight those who are in the medical field is important to give back the care they are putting out.”
Being a nurse in the Air Force can consist of many things. From taking care of wounded patients mid-air to helping families seek treatment at a clinic, military nurses and medical technicians constantly work to ensure their mission of keeping their patients safe and healthy.
“Before I got into the medical field, I had no idea how important nurses and medical technicians were, I always saw them as the in between person,” said Airman 1st Class Taylor Riner, a medical technician assigned to the 97th MDG family health clinic. “Now that I am one of those technicians, I know first-hand the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes.”
According to Riner, nurses and medical technicians in the Air force perform a variety of tasks which include: checking patient vital signs, strep throat and flu swabs, updating doctors on the patient's condition, providing intravenous fluids if needed and suture removal, to name a few.
While their days can be busy and consist of many tasks, some medical professionals continue their career because of the mental rewards and memories they receive from the job.
“One of the memories that just makes me love my job happened several years ago with a younger patient that just had a tumor removed, and the patient was here at the 97th MDG getting his sutures removed,” said Raymond. “I was talking to him while he was in the room, trying to make him feel better, because it can be scary. I asked him what he was going to do later that day. He said he was going to an activity center, but the part I will never forget was when he looked up at me and asked if I could come with him to the activity center. It’s the little moments like that memory, which make me really proud to be a nurse.”