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School of Nursing helps military train BSNs for the nurse corps

August 2007

by Rosanne Fohn

Rodriguez, a 1989 graduate of the School of Nursing, is a flight nurse in the U.S. Air Force Reserve 433rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base. When he is not on active duty, he works in the post-anesthesia care unit in outpatient services for the Methodist Healthcare System.

"I enjoy serving in the reserve," Rodriguez, 41, said. "My military and civilian jobs complement each other. I consider it an honor and privilege to serve my country."

After working for a short time in the private sector, Rodriguez entered the reserve in 1991 as a second lieutenant. He has been deployed five times since 2003 to care for the wounded in the Middle East.


U.S. Air Force Reserve Maj. Adam Rodriguezís multifaceted career began when he entered the School of Nursing at the suggestion of his mother and aunt, who were both nurses. But it was his older sister, Air Force Lt. Col. Diana Flores, who urged him to join the military to see the world, get the most out of the extensive training opportunities and stretch his capabilities. "I was fascinated by it," he said.



  U.S. Air Force Reserve Maj. Adam Rodriguez
U.S. Air Force Reserve Maj. Adam Rodriguez
Military nursing students

Although Rodriguez attended nursing school as a civilian, the Health Science Center has had a longstanding tradition of training military students in all areas of health care. Those who complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree become junior military officers.

"About 3 percent of our 415 undergraduates are military students," said Brenda Jackson, Ph.D., R.N., associate dean for the undergraduate nursing program and a former Air Force critical care nurse.

Some cadets enter the nursing school through the Army ROTC program at The University of Texas at San Antonio. After taking their prerequisites there, the students attend nursing school at the Health Science Center while taking an ROTC elective each semester at UTSA to learn military culture and leadership. The military pays their tuition, books and a monthly stipend. In return, the graduating second lieutenants agree to serve for eight years.

Other programs, such as the AMEDD (Army Medical Department) Enlisted Commissioning Program (AECP) through the U.S. Army Medical Command at Fort Sam Houston, give enlisted personnel the opportunity to earn a nursing degree and become an officer. The military pays tuition, fees and books while the student keeps full pay and benefits while attending school.



Strengths of the nursing program

Because of its strong community partnerships, military-friendly electives and high-ranking military retiree faculty members, the School of Nursing is in an especially appealing choice for military nursing candidates.

  • Nursing students have the opportunity to apply their skills at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, Audie L. Murphy Division; Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC); and Wilford Hall Medical Center. BAMC and Wilford Hall, along with University Hospital, also are Level 1 trauma centers.

    "The strength of the Health Science Centerís partnerships were very influential in the decisions made by the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) to consolidate health professional education for all the military branches in San Antonio," Dr. Jackson said. "Thatís a very clear indicator of how much the military values what we have to offer."

  • Through its collaboration with University Hospital, the nursing school offers emergency room, trauma and operating room electives. "Most undergraduate programs donít offer that," Dr. Jackson said.

  • The nursing faculty includes many high-ranking military retirees, including retired Army Col. Lark Ford, former deputy commander for nursing at BAMC and chief nurse executive for the Great Plains Regional Medical Command, and retired Col. Carol Reineck, incoming chair of the department of acute nursing care. Col. Reineck retired in 2001 as chief nurse executive of the U.S. Army Medical Command worldwide.


Coming full circle

But itís the simple things that sometimes make nursing such a good fit for some military members. "Nursing is everything the Army teaches. The skills you learn here perfectly complement the teamwork and personal responsibility of the Army," said Army ROTC Cadet and Staff Sgt. Jeff Benton. "And I can retire when Iím 40 and I will have a profession."

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Updated 12/11/14