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Military nurses hold virtual research & evidence-based practice course

Two nurses, wearing masks, examining a mannequin Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Meghan Audibert (left), and Carla Henley, a registered nurse (right), both assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego's (NMCSD) Intensive Care Unit (ICU), perform a code blue drill on a simulation mannequin in the hospital's ICU Sept. 10. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way many facets of healthcare are conducted, and NMCSD's ICU has adapted some of their techniques and practices to keep both staff and patients safe while delivering the high-quality healthcare they’ve come to expect. (Photo by Seaman Luke Cunningham, Naval Medical Center San Diego.)

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“How we are going to use this pandemic to take us to that next level in our nursing profession?”

This was the challenge issued by Navy Rear Adm. Riggs, Defense Health Agency director of research & development, to nurses all across the Defense Health Agency (DHA) enterprise during a recent, virtual-version of the TriService Nursing Research Program (TSRP) course.

TSNRP is a research and evidence-based practice dissemination course. It was created in 2014 to continue the Phyllis J. Verhonick Nursing Research Symposium and the Karen Rieder Research/Federal Nursing poster session, formerly held at the Association for Military Surgeons' annual meeting. This course provides an opportunity for military nurses to disseminate their research and evidence-based practice findings to other nurses across the armed services. Since inception, this course has been an incredible event that connects military nurses with similar scientific and clinical passions, evidence-based practice, and transforms the care delivered to service members and their beneficiaries.

Due to the COVID-19 national emergency, the three-day in-person course was abbreviated to a one-day virtual, which had more than 400 registered participants.

Highlights of this year’s course included recorded presentations from selected presenters, a virtual poster gallery, a virtual speaker gallery, and presentations from each of the services, including Navy Rear Adm. Cynthia Kuehner; Air Force Brig. Gen. Jeannine Ryder and Army Col. Lozay Foots, In addition, Navy Capt. Virginia Blackman, Air Force Col. Jennifer Hatzfeld, and Army Col. Angela Simmons participated. Dr. Patricia Patrician, delivered a keynote presentation presentation focused on “Scientific Mentorship: Your Professional Legacy,” while Riggs, whose lecture, “Nursing during a Pandemic,” was also a keynote presentation. 

Riggs discussed the critical role military nurses played in COVID-19 testing and containment in their local areas, and stressed the role nurses play in education initiatives that include infection prevention strategies, early detection of infection signs and symptoms, emotional support for those in isolation, and the challenging ethical dilemmas that have been identified. She also stressed the need to look at the role of nursing functions and standardizing those activities to develop a set of best practices for pandemics like COVID-19. Riggs pointed out potential changes, including Health Protection Condition Guidance, centralized learning management systems, and Practice Management Guides.

“Hopefully, once we get to the end state, we’ll be a lot better prepared for figuring out where those centralized functions are,” she said. “I would encourage all of you to think through what that will look like.”

Riggs also concluded her presentation by expressing her pride for the work done by military nurses around the world. “I just wanted to say we are so proud of our nurses everywhere, whether it’s in the U.S. or in Europe or across the world,” she said. “I don’t think we’ve dealt of anything of this magnitude…and certainly while nursing is our most valuable asset in times of crisis we need to be very keen to make sure we’re keeping up with each other in terms of physically and emotionally. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you all and just know that you harbor my greatest admiration.”

For more information on TSNRP, visit the website; or view the Dissemination Course poster gallery.


TSNRP was established by Congress in 1992 as the country’s first and only Department of Defense program that supports and allows armed forces nurses to conduct military nursing research. The TSNRP mission is to facilitate nursing research to optimize the health of military members and their beneficiaries. TSNRP is located within the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

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