NEWS | March 2, 2021

Deployed Army Nurse, Taking Care of Soldiers is My Job

By (Courtesy article) 3d Medical Command (Deployment Support)

Capt. Meagan Barker is a 66S (Critical Care Nurse) working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU); deployed with the 228th Combat Support Hospital (CSH) deployed to Kuwait. As part of Women’s History Month, we are spotlighting her and her deployment mission.

The 228th CSH Mission is to provide theater hospitalization in support of forces, in CENTCOM Area of Operation, and provide area medical support to camps within Kuwait and other locations.

This mission keeps Barker engaged with a wide-spectrum of patients. “Being an ICU Nurse I am able to take an assortment of patients to assist in effectively taking care of our Soldiers. Also, being a Post Anesthesia Care Unit Recovery Nurse I support recovering a patient right after surgery in the ICU until they are stable to return to duty,” said Capt. Meagan Barker.

For Barker and her fellow Soldiers, there is more to her job than bandages and CT scans. “Not all Soldiers have wounds that are visible, so we collaborate with our psychologists and psychiatrists to help these Soldiers with whatever they may need. At the end of the day, taking care of Soldiers is my job, whether inside or outside the hospital,” Barker said.                 

Taking care Soldiers is second nature to Barker, with adaptation and change just part of the job. “When I graduated in 2013 with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing, I tried to direct commission into the Active Army and they told me I couldn’t commission until I had two years of nursing experience. For me, that was the best thing that could have happened because when I joined three years later, I was given the opportunity to go into the Army Reserve. I would not have it any other way now,” Barker said.

The Army Reserve offers Barker the chance for both a civilian and military career. “I am a Traveling Cardio-Vascular ICU Nurse. I go to different hospitals every 13 weeks and help out that ICU. I am there to help out and in turn it helps me gain more experience. It’s really nice to be able to have the freedom to travel the country and see new places but also get to see how other hospitals do certain processes and procedures,” said Barker.

Barker added, “The best part about being a nurse on the civilian side and a nurse on the military side is that they overlap in a lot of areas. My job on the civilian side is also pretty flexible. If there is a trauma course or Army course I have to go to, my hospital doesn’t hesitate to send me because they know I’ll come back and share my experience with the other nurses. It allows not only myself to grow but the other nurses I work with. I’ve been able to learn and grown. Not only as an ICU Nurse but an Army Nurse. Every opportunity I have been given is an opportunity to help grow and mentor someone else. I have learned what good leadership looks like.”

Part of what makes this deployment a success for Barker is her team and how the 228th CSH operates. “The 228th CSH operates with a team-centric focus, everyone at the hospital has a job that helps lead to mission success. I cannot effectively do my job without the help of everyone working together. Not one single section is more important than another section,” she said.

Beyond the 228th CSH, Family, the future and gratitude motivates Barker. “My Family has encouraged me to be better and do better. This deployment has helped me realize that I do want to advance in my career and obtain my Doctor or Nursing practice in Anesthesia to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA),” Barker said. Adding, “I couldn’t do nursing or the Army without support from my husband, Nathan. From the time I decided to commission into the Army to when I volunteered to come on this deployment, he has had my back and I have to say I am blessed. My dad is a retired 1st Sgt., so he knows the hard work and dedication it takes to be in the Army. My parents are my biggest supporters, next to my husband, and I could never thank them enough for all the opportunities they have given me in life.”

“My Goal growing up was to care for Soldiers and I never fathomed that, whether inside or outside the hospital, they have blessed my live just as much as I have blessed theirs,” Barker said.