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UNG nurses participate in Army internship

Lauren Peterka, right, participated in a monthlong internship at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

At the University of North Georgia, it's not unusual for students to participate in internship programs located across the country and around the world. But in a program that's new for UNG, three cadets in the university's nursing program spent a month working side-by-side with military nurses and doctors at Army hospitals in Alaska and Washington, D.C.

Lauren Peterka
Lauren Peterka and other cadets in the
Nurses Summer Training Program in
Washington, D.C., were given a tour
of the Pentagon.

Though the Nurses Summer Training Program (NSTP) isn't new, this year marked the first time UNG nurses have participated in the Army program. Cadets Lauren Peterka and Toni Trovato participated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and cadet Brett Stroup participated at Bassett Army Community Hospital at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

All three have completed their requirements for an Associate of Science in nursing (ASN) degree and have passed testing to become registered nurses. Peterka plans to graduate with her Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) in May 2015 and commission as an Army nurse.

Greg Killeen, a military recruiting operations officer at UNG, said the program provides a unique chance for cadets to shadow military nurses.

"It's a fantastic opportunity to get real-world training in an Army hospital and to gain an entire month of experience," Killeen said.

The training in nursing and the military that the cadets have already received at UNG helped in their tasks, Peterka said. Rather than just watching someone else do the work, she got hands-on experience with drawing blood, working night shifts, installing IVs, and helping comfort families of veterans and wounded soldiers. UNG cadets also were well-prepared for interacting with and briefing superiors, particularly when called upon to discuss a new "caring touch" method for helping patients.

"UNG's cadets were the most prepared in briefing and knowing the information brief process because we'd already had that training and we live that model – the Army way – every day," she said. "We didn't just do a boring presentation, we put a lot into it and they weren't expecting that, just from cadets. It just shows you what cadets are capable of doing."

As the officer in charge of the Corps of Cadets' nursing students, Peterka said she demands a lot from her cadets.

"We're trying to meet the demands both of the corps and of nursing and we can't slide by on either one because the Army has set higher standards for us," she said. "I like to keep my cadets on track and let them know what they're going to do. You can't just accept mediocrity."

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