5 new critical care, emergency trauma nurses added to ‘fight’


The 56th Medical Group and Honor Health Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center added five new Critical Care and Emergency Trauma nurses to the Air Force during the class 18A graduation ceremony at Honor Health Jan. 17.

The nurses were recognized for a culmination of 12 months of training, including 240 hours of classroom time, 10 to 25 hours in simulations and 1,500 hours of bedside clinical experience. The nurses are now ready to provide patient care.

The Critical Care and Emergency Trauma Nursing Fellowship provides Airmen the opportunity to become fully qualified CCET nurses. By the end of the fellowship, these nurses master the ability to triage as well as treat and manage cardiac, neurological, respiratory, burn and psychological emergency situations.

“Throughout the year, the fellows participate in real-life patient care, emergencies and critical conditions like the ones they would encounter downrange,” said Maj. Dawn Higgins, CCETN director. “This gives them a distinctive opportunity to hone their skills with live patients.”

To be considered eligible for the fellowship, applicants must hold the rank of first lieutenant through major, be current United States Air Force nurses with at least two years of clinical nursing experience, one being inpatient, and demonstrate the ability to handle and effectively manage fast-pace and high-stress situations. They must also hold current certifications in basic, advanced and pediatric life support, have a current passing fitness test and be world-wide qualified.

“The clinical practice, the knowledge and the skills that we gain at this fellowship are bar none,” said 1st Lt. Devin Ricchuito, emergency trauma nurse. “I don’t think you will find anywhere else a year-long training just to become emergency trauma or intensive care unit nurses, which really helps us stand out.”

Classes have start dates of January and August with class sizes recently increasing from five to 10 nurses. They take an intense six-week instructional course that progresses to current, evidence-based practices to treat high-acuity and trauma patients.

“Throughout the year, they utilize a high-fidelity simulation lab to practice acute assessment and trauma skills for situations they may encounter during their military career,” Higgins said.

When Airmen deploy to combat areas, ensuring nurses are trained to provide the highest level of patient care, while staying calm, can be the determining factor between life and death on the battlefield. Having the experience to develop a sound foundation elevates the level of safe patient care the Air Force can deliver, both downrange and at home.

“This fellowship definitely impacts the Air Force and the military as a whole in a big way,” Ricchuito said. “Now that we are ER trauma and intensive-care unit nurses, we are going to be sent to smaller forward operating bases, we’re going to take care of more critical patients and we’ll be transporting them. Ultimately you want highly trained individuals to fill those positions and you need the core knowledge to succeed.”

The fellows participate in real-life patient care, emergencies and critical conditions like the ones they most-likely will encounter downrange. These learning experiences give them a distinctive opportunity to enhance their skills with live patients. Continued training allows the fellows to pull their skills together in a realistic simulation setting with the same equipment, sounds and high-fidelity mannequins.

“As the military is getting smaller and smaller, our medics must be comfortably competent in a variety of clinical presentations,” Higgins said. “The partnership with Honor Health is an integral component to this, and we are grateful every day for the opportunity to train here. The graduates from this program become the subject-matter experts at their units and continue to develop the nurse corps. What is built here persists well past that one individual nurse.”