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Air Force Nurse Distinguishes Herself On and Off the Battlefield
A Natural Fit
Fasciani says she sees a natural fit between her two roles.
“As a nurse, I take care of patients who are fellow servicemembers, as well as retirees, which is unique. And also, as a captain, I get to learn and exercise leadership and what it means to be an officer,” she explains. “There I get to do things nurses do not [usually] get to do — be in charge of programs, for example.”
She notes that many of the skills she learned in officer training are translatable to nursing, such as making decisions quickly and taking a leadership role in stressful situations.
Capt. Gina Fasciani served as the crucial care nursing expert for a surgical operating team based in Afganistan.
“They are all beneficial to my work as a nurse, and both skill sets work synergistically – each one bettering the other,” she says.
Fasciani set her sights on both aspects of her career at about the same time, when a student at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, OK, she recalls.
“I was in ROTC in college and enrolled in nursing at the same time,” says Fasciani. “I knew that what I wanted to do with my life was to be helpful to people in a very practical way, and being a nurse felt perfect. The role of the nurse in the military has such an awesome history, so being both is a tremendous honor.”
Nursing opportunities in the military are unique, she adds, as are the educational opportunities and the excitement of travel. “It’s also fairly easy to move in and out of different nursing roles,” Fasciani adds.
Passion is a Key Element
Though the surroundings in a hospital and on the battlefield clearly differ, Fasciani says the keys to excellence in nursing care do not. “The nursing care is the same,” she asserts, with passion heading the list.
“Being passionate about what we are doing and the people we serve is vital,” she says. “Without that, I don’t think you could do a very good job taking care of people.” The other vital elements include working as a team, being surrounded with good people and communicating well, she notes, adding, “that ensures excellent care.”
For herself, she continues, “What I do to make sure I am giving excellent care is to try to always have a learning attitude — to take advantage of all the opportunities presented to me to learn and grow, to ask lots of questions and to heavily rely on team members. We learn and grow from each other.”
In addition, Fasciani says, despite her many awards, she tries “to remain in a humble state.”
That humility is evident when she discusses the bravery she displayed on the battlefield, and where she found the courage to put her patients first — at great risk to herself.
“Honestly, I did not think too much about it; it’s one of those things where we train for those scenarios,” says Fasciani. “As a nurse, you’re always thinking about your patients and their safety. In that circumstance [any personal danger] did not really cross my mind. I went into action mode, put on the gear I was supposed to put on, had a few team members by my side, and together we gave each other courage. It was only afterward that I analyzed what had happened.”
Fasciani also has clear goals for the future. “I’m actually in grad school to be a nurse midwife — that is very different from trauma nursing,” she says. “I’m excited to take the next step in becoming a nurse practitioner, which is more of a provider role, with a wider patient population. Eventually, I’d like to work overseas, helping people who do not have easy access to healthcare — but that could be far in the distance.”