MSU Texas Nursing, SAFB form a natural partnership MSU Texas Marketing & Public Information

Story Kathy Floyd
Photos Kathy Floyd and Michelle Hall
3 min read

When the busload of more than 50 students from Midwestern State University’s Wilson School of Nursing stopped at Sheppard Air Force Base’s gate for clearance in January, it was the beginning of a new experience. Most had never been on a military installation before.

For Assistant Nursing Professor Michelle Hall, teaming up with Sheppard for nursing training was only natural. She served 10 years active duty in the Navy, and another 10 in the reserves.

Hall wants to give these students a chance to step outside a routine medical environment and be prepared for any circumstances they might encounter as they make their way in the nursing profession. “These students will be able to see how the Department of Defense works,” Hall said. “People who are not used to the military will be more comfortable in different conditions. I hope this prepares them for the world that lies ahead.”

Until COVID-19 halted the collaboration in March, students trained weekly at Sheppard during the first semester of their senior year. For the initial visit, the fifth class to train at Sheppard, students toured the medical headquarters and learned about Sheppard’s leadership and its mission. Military personnel instructed students on base procedure, infection control, patient safety, and privacy laws. They were presented with training orientation certificates.

Sheppard is the largest and most diverse training base in the Air Force, according to its website. More than 60,000 students plus other personnel pass through Sheppard’s gates each year. Its 82nd Medical Group provides health services for approximately 22,000 beneficiaries and manages an average daily Air Force student load of 4,560 personnel. It also manages medical care for international students in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program – the only program of its kind in the world. ENJJPT students are from 14 partner nations, which include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The unique nature of Sheppard’s training programs give MSU Texas students the opportunities to train in aerospace and flight medicine, pediatrics, immunization clinics, family practice, a medical-surgical rotation, and disease management.

With its diversity, Hall said that students get to see a different population, and that they may see a wider variety of conditions because of the varied training and nationalities. They also may see symptoms related to high altitude conditions and G-force tolerances.

The latest group of MSU Texas students also visited the training physiology center, where pilots train in simulators. “They got to go into the chamber where they take pilots up to altitude to see how they respond to a lack of oxygen,” Hall said.

Hall is looking for ways that MSU Texas students can work with Sheppard during the pandemic, possibly assisting with flu vaccines, and she looks forward to when students can continue their nursing training at the base.

In addition to taking the students to SAFB, Hall also took her nursing leadership students to the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas. “Since nursing is an art, I like to tie that together for them,” Hall said. “We are going to use a couple of the art pieces with groups of birds to discuss the teamwork element necessary in nursing."