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On The Frontlines

Where there has been war and conflict, there have always been nurses to care for the wounded.

And so it is fitting that the feature story in this new issue of Penn Nursing magazine focuses on the role of nurses and nurse scientists in the policy development, research, and practice that go into ensuring that as a country we can offer our military the best available care. We have always been a critical part of this work.

Penn Nursing is known for its commitment to innovation, and our alumni and faculty lead the way in finding new solutions that have and will revolutionize services and care for active military and for military veterans. Our School’s excellence in this area led First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to visit Penn Nursing in 2012 to announce the launch of a major effort in nursing and veterans’ health through their national initiative Joining Forces. New solutions, such as those championed through this initiative and other nurse-led work, are important—from pain management to palliative care, innovative developments that come out of the military and the Veterans’ Administration (VA) become tomorrow’s cost-saving and life-saving protocols that impact the broader public.

I view military service through a lens that is wider than my experience in health and health care. My uncle was in the Navy and served during World War II. My father-in-law was in the Marines. My niece and her husband also served in the Navy. Like many, I don’t need to look back too far to realize the personal impact of those who serve.

I often speak about Penn Nursing being more than the #1 nursing school in the world—we are #1 for the world. And while we are driven to innovate because it is a natural part of what nurses do every day, so many of us have a personal connection to improve, to innovate, and to be change-makers in the VA, in the active military, and in other health and health care spaces. It makes our work that much more urgent.

The Power of Penn lives in each of us. The spirit of Penn Nursing’s Innovating for Life and Living Campaign, which has already raised more than 70 percent of our $60 million campaign goal, infuses each of us with a mandate to do what Penn Nursing does best: transform health and health care for the better.

It is a joy to watch that commitment in action here at Penn Nursing, to see students and faculty jump into action when a new idea develops—what many call their lightbulb moments. I hope you’ll submit your own lightbulb moments for a new recurring column in the magazine called “Case Study.” The column highlights the work of our alumni who have encountered problems on the job and developed innovative solutions to solve them. As I always say, this is what nurses do every single day. Your stories of addressing complex problems, whether working within military spaces—like in our feature article in this issue—or in some other area, are truly inspirational.

Whether you are an alum, a current student, or a friend, thank you for being part of Penn Nursing and the groundbreaking work we do. The Innovating for Life and Living Campaign will increase the transformative impact of nursing, expand wellbeing, and advocate for health equity. You will see the promise of the campaign play out not just in this issue of Penn Nursing, but well into the future—for active military and veterans, for our most at-risk populations, and for the world.