This National Nurses Week, maybe you should consider a career in nursing

Eric Dehm
May 11, 2018 - 1:32 pm

Us Navy Photo by Jacob Sippel

When 18-year-old Bill Danchanko joined the Navy in '94 he enlisted as a Corpsman. Fast forward 24 years and he's now Commander Bill Danchanko, Navy nurse and doctor. Yes, he's both a nurse and a doctor, with a PhD in nursing studies. He also comes from a family based in the medical profession, with his mother being a nurse and his father working in operating rooms. 

When it comes to the field of nursing Danchanko, who currently serves as the Chief of the Center of Nursing Science and Clinical Inquiry at Walter Reed, is supremely qualified to speak on it. On the occasion of National Nurses Week, Danchanko visited the Morning Briefing radio show to discuss the history and importance of the military nursing corps, and nurses in general.

Photo Courtesy CDR Bill Danchanko

Despite his extensive credentials, the tattooed, Harley-riding officer might not be what you typically picture when you think about a nurse, so it's perhaps not surprising when he uses an analogy you might not expect when talking about the importance of nurses.

"Nurses, we're the front line, what you're talking about here is the offensive and defensive lines of healthcare," Danchanko said. "We advocate for our patients, for us it's about what they want, not what we think.... just like you would think about in football, if you take away the offensive line things start to fall apart. At the same time they're in the trenches doing work where you don't hear about the nurses every day."

While doctors and surgeons may get all the medical glory, Danchanko says he's incredibly proud to follow in the footsteps of those who have cared for our wounded warriors from Martha Washington's Revolutionary War camp followers, to the modern day military, so proud that he hopes more veterans consider nursing for a post-service career, regardless of whether they served in the medical field.

"You'd be surprised at the job they had when they were enlisted, and they end up being amazing nurses," Danchanko said. "Guys who have been SEALs, guys who have been Electronics Techinicians, guys who have worked on submarines and done all these things where you think 'that has nothing to do with healthcare' they end up being amazing nurses."

Photo Courtesy CDR Bill Danchanko

While people constantly thank service members for their service, Danchanko said he'd like to see a bit more recognition for what nurses do, particularly those in uniform. From delivery rooms to the OR and on to hospice care, you might not realize it, but nurses are likely going to play a big part in your life.

"All the glory goes to the door kickers, but you know what? Thank your nurse," Danchanko said. "Because when you were born there was a nurse there, and when you die there's more than likely going to be one there too." 

You can hear the full interview with CDR Danchanko below by clicking Play to stream now, or to listen later click Share and select Download from the available options.