Today in the chart

Changemaker Spotlight: TNB’s Interview with Hannah Cvancara RN, BSN

A TNB Special Feature

The Nursing Beat is proud to be at the forefront of changing the face of healthcare and nursing, so it was our extreme pleasure to interview changemaker and amputee Hannah Cvancara, RN, BSN. While she is not yet a US military veteran, she hopes to change that status with her Congressional Bill, the “Hannah Cvancara Service Act.” She spoke with us about her inspiring story and how she hopes to change the current military policy for amputees and physically disabled persons who wish to serve in the military!

The Nursing Beat (TNB): Thanks for meeting with us today, Hannah! Can you give us a little background about your life outside of nursing?

Hannah Cvancara (HC): I grew up in a military family with my mom, dad, and three sisters. We frequently moved with my dad’s work as a flight surgeon and Colonel in the Air Force, so I lived in five different states by the time I was nine. My mother homeschooled my sisters and me until we settled in Spokane, WA, in 2004, where I attended a small private school called the Oaks Classical Christian Academy. My family always remained active outdoors during my childhood, frequently going hiking, fishing, skiing, or backpacking.

TNB: You have a fascinating story behind your amputation. What exactly is fibular hemimelia?

HC: Fibular hemimelia is a rare congenital birth defect defined by the absence of the fibula bone in one or both legs, inhibiting growth throughout the entire leg. In my case, I was born with a missing fibula in my left leg, no ankle joint, four toes on a deformed foot, and a shortened femur. My leg was amputated at one year old, and I learned to walk with my first prosthetic leg.

TNB: Tell us a little bit about your nursing career: your inspiration to become one, where you practice, and the areas that interest you most.

HC: I knew I wanted to be a nurse since middle school, and that goal had never wavered. My own patient experience and my dad’s military medical career helped me develop the empathy and understanding needed for quality healthcare. My goal to become a nurse was only reinforced as I got older.

I went to four different colleges in six years to get my nursing degree and graduated from the National University of San Diego with my BSN in 2019. Since then, I have practiced in orthopedic surgery and both preoperative and postoperative/PACU critical care. I especially love working in pre-operative surgery because I get to know my patients and help encourage and navigate them through their procedure.  

Although I’m open to many different types of nursing, I was always interested in more trauma-related critical care roles, like ED or ICU. I love to cross-train and explore new areas of nursing, and I like to stay open to any new opportunities! 

I chose to pursue a nursing career within military service specifically because I value military service as an American duty and an honor for the protection of our country. I wanted to utilize my background, training, and patient experience to contribute to both the civilian and military populations alike. As a nurse, I have the opportunity to help those and serve with those alongside me who share my passion for patriotism.  

TNB: We’ve heard about your Congressional Bill, the “Hannah Cvancara Service Act.” Tell us a little more about it!

HC: I worked with my Congresswoman, Cathay McMorris Rodgers, to introduce the Bill, “Hannah Cvancara Service Act,” which proposes a change in military policy to allow amputees and other physically disabled individuals into service as long as they can pass the military’s standard tests.

I know many people like me that are considered “disabled” but are not hindered in any way throughout life because of how they adapt. I am very passionate about those with disabilities being given an equal chance for anything in life without pushback or fear that they won’t be able to perform adequately. I consider military service an honor and duty necessary for our country’s future. I don’t believe anyone should be excluded from that opportunity if they can pass all required tests, regardless of their physical disability. The Bill remains introduced in Congress, but there has not been an update on whether or not it passed the House since it was introduced a month ago.

TNB: We know you want to be a Navy nurse. Where do you want to practice nursing in the Navy if and when the Bill gets passed?

HC: Navy nurses primarily work in land-hospital settings at bigger Navy bases like Portsmouth, San Diego, Everett, and Mayport. Navy nurses may deploy with ships or on a hospital ship and, rarely, out in the field. I would love to deploy on hospital ships for humanitarian missions, and I would love the opportunity to be out in the field, given the chance. But, ultimately, I’m content going wherever I’m needed most.

TNB: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for nurses today?

HC: The only bit of advice I have to share with my fellow nurses is that it is never too late to explore new nursing opportunities and further your career. Nursing is very unique because it is so diverse and flexible, with endless opportunities in various specialties. I think it’s important to explore those opportunities in a career that gives you that freedom.

From all of us here at TNB, we wish Hannah the very best for the passage of her Congressional Bill! You’re an inspiration to us all!

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