The Latest

Tri-Service Nursing Research Program Celebrates 25th Anniversary

(From left) CAPT (ret) Patricia Kelley, Lt Col Hatzfeld, and Col (ret) Marla De Jong join in the TSNRP’s 25th anniversary celebration. (Image credit: Tom Balfour)
 By Vivian Mason

The Tri-Service Nursing Research Program (TSNRP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences marked its 25th anniversary this year with a celebration held in conjunction with the Fourth Annual Research and Evidence-Based Practice Dissemination Course.

More than 250 nurses from the Army, Navy and Air Force attended the dissemination course to discuss innovative ideas, share collaborative scientific approaches, and present the latest in military nursing research and evidence-based practice. “I’m always amazed to see such a dynamic community of nurse scholars who are passionate about strengthening military nursing,” said TSNRP Executive Director Air Force Lt. Col. Jennifer Hatzfeld, a board certified advanced public health nurse.

As part of the 25th anniversary celebration, Lt. Col. Hatzfeld presented an informative overview of the organization to attendees. “The program started as a way to ensure excellence in military nursing care,” she emphasized. 

The festivities were further marked by a display of nursing artifacts and objects supplied by the National Museum of Health and Medicine, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To round out the commemoration, TSNRP staff and nursing research community members provided photographs, documents, meeting notes, and other mementos chronicling the early years of the TSNRP.

A cake with the TSNRP logo on it
The TSNRP’s 25th anniversary was celebrated during the poster session of the Fourth Annual Research and Evidence-Based Practice Dissemination Course. (Image credit: Tom Balfour)

Through the years, TSNRP has funded more than 380 grants totaling more than $100 million and has resulted in research published in more than 60 peer-reviewed journals. This is the only program that funds and supports rigorous scientific research in the field of military nursing.

So, how did the TSNRP come to be?

In 1986, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii advocated for the development of the National Center for Nursing Research.  “He really believed in the power of nursing,” said Hatzfeld.

In 1990, the three Services formed the Federal Nursing Research Interest Group that later became the Tri-Service Nursing Research Group. In 1991, the Tri-Service Nursing Research Group and the chiefs of the Army, Navy, and Air Force Nurse Corps met with the leadership of the National Center for Nursing Research (now known as the National Institute of Nursing Research) to discuss a coordinated strategy for military nursing research. Five years later, the Department of Defense Authorization Act recognized that group as part of the DoD health care program, and its name was officially changed to the TriService Nursing Research Program. Patrick DeLeon, PhD, former chief of staff for Senator Inouye, said, “The purpose has always been for nurses in the field to get to do research. Senator Inouye really liked the concept of nursing in the Department of Defense.”

Even though TSNRP was started to fund nursing research within the military, over the last 25 years it has grown from a program with a budget of $1 million annually to a program that funds both research and evidence-based practice awards to active duty, reserve, and retired military nurses. It also offers numerous educational opportunities through the TSNRP Resource Center.

Three women pose for a photo before they cut a cake
(From left) Col (ret) Marla De Jong, CAPT (ret) Patricia Kelley, and Lt Col Hatzfeld cut the cake during the 25th anniversary celebration. (Image credit: Tom Balfour)

TSNRP has a rich, 25-year legacy of contributing to the policies and practices of military nursing by funding operationally-relevant research and evidence-based practice projects. The three studies below serve as examples of the impact that TSNRP has had on military nursing practice:

  • Patient CaringTouch System (PCTS) — This nursing practice model, now used in the Army Nurse Corps, was developed using large amounts of data collected from military hospitals with a goal to improve the quality of care provided to patients and their families.
  • Deployed Patient Care — This study identified operational nursing competencies to help military nurses prepare for deployment. The primary outcome was a list of competencies that have been incorporated into Air Force Nursing pre-deployment standards, but it also resulted in a Battlefield and Disaster Nursing Pocket Guide (published in 2009) used by thousands of nurses across all services.
  • Global Health Engagement — This study is focused on capturing the clinical experiences and lessons learned from global health engagement missions on U.S. naval hospital ships. The preliminary findings are informing current en route care training efforts and the preparation of future Global Health Engagement missions.

“We believe in the importance of funding clinically-relevant research to expand the evidence used by nurses in the military healthcare system,” said Lt.Col. Hatzfeld. “TSNRP is finalizing a strategic plan for the next 25 years, but it is important to celebrate the accomplishments of those involved with TSNRP and remember our ambitious beginning.”