Today in the chart

Nurse Veteran Spotlight: TNB’s Interview with Lieutenant Colonel Tanisha Currie, US Army

A TNB Special Feature

For The Nursing Beat’s inaugural Veterans Day newsletter, we had the absolute honor to interview LTC (Lieutenant Colonel) Tanisha Currie, an active duty US Army nurse, about her life and career in nursing. 

LTC Currie earned her nursing degree from The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and has been in the military for 14 years. She is currently stationed at Joint Base San Antonio, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, at the Brooke Army Medical Center

The Nursing Beat (TNB): Thanks for meeting with us, Lieutenant Colonel Currie! Can you tell us your nursing specialty in the military and out of the military if it’s different?

Lieutenant Colonel, Tanisha Currie (LTC, TC): I’m a medical-surgical nurse and nurse scientist. My areas of interest are nutrition, brain health, and warfighter health.

TNB: How many tours of duty have you completed?

LTC, TC: Seven.

TNB: What inspired you to pursue a nursing career in the military?

LTC, TC: What better way to serve this wonderful nation than alongside a team of phenomenal healthcare professionals and individuals that share your passion for helping others in need and leading when called upon?

TNB: What is the best part of being a military nurse?

LTC, TC: Taking care of heroes and their families, becoming and continuously refining the leader within, rising to untraditional challenges, and making lifetime friends we often call “family.”

TNB: What is the hardest part of being a military nurse?

LTC, TC: The hardest part of being a military nurse is the same reasons I enjoy being a military nurse: the daily guaranteed challenge and growth opportunities.

TNB: What do you think are some common misconceptions about military nursing?

LTC, TC: Although we have a different mission and population to serve than our civilian nurse colleagues, we share many similarities and can learn from each other.

TNB: Looking back over your military nursing career, what has been your proudest moment?

LTC, TC: Being an Army ROTC Nurse Counselor, I had the pleasure and honor of allocating over a half million dollars in Nurse Cadet Scholarships for deserving future Army Nurse Corps (ANC) Officers. It has been rewarding to know that I was able to make a difference by mentoring the next generation and assisting in selecting star talent to carry the ANC mission forward. Cadet Command, as an organization, retained, trained, and prepared top-notch future nurses for the Army’s complex healthcare environments and operations.

TNB: Tell me about a mistake you made as a new grad nurse that you hope others can avoid by learning from you.

LTC, TC: As a new grad, I would say that your sole purpose is to be a drenched sponge. Always ask questions, whether small or big; it all matters and is important to delivering safe premier healthcare. Your patient needs your skillset, but always remember that your patient has a lot of lived experience on what brought them to meet you. Understand their journey so that you know how best to serve them. Your knowledge is vast, but always chase the “hustle” of learning. Lastly, have fun in whatever nursing setting you are in (i.e., medical-surgical, intensive care, healthcare administration, nursing informatics, or research); and be kind, helpful, and cool so that your buddies will not think twice about helping you when the favor is needed in return.

TNB: What characteristics make a military nurse great, and what is your best nursing characteristic?

LTC, TC: I would say integrity, being true to oneself, and possessing a sense of personal pride to take care of patients, one’s team, yourself, and the mission. I believe my character and sense of humility have helped to shape me into the nurse leader I am today.

TNB: Who has been your biggest nursing mentor, either in or out of the military, or both, and why?

LTC, TC: I have been blessed to have a plethora of mentors from a diverse fountain of industries and inspiration. It includes my parents, phenomenal nurse scientists, nutrition scientists, scientists of various backgrounds, nurse leaders, CEOs, mathematicians, and so forth. There are too many to name! I would need a year just to start roll calling all the people that have played an instrumental part in who I am today. I believe that a person can learn from anyone and anything. You must be open to the lesson and intent on what you can learn from a person or event. The take-home point? Even trees have branches that can provide countless perspectives. 

TNB: How do, or did, you “detox” from hard or difficult shifts while deployed?

LTC, TC: My faith is the best foundation I continue to stand on, no matter the difficulty or circumstances. I also found that while I was deployed, our phenomenal Chaplains provided services to ensure that soldiers’ spiritual and overall well-being were a priority. This was a great opportunity to connect with others during uncertain times and to be a light for others.

TNB: What are some things that you would never deploy without? 

LTC, TC: My team, protective equipment, kick butt sunglasses, a great pillow, and my bible.

TNB: Tell us about a memorable holiday during a deployment. 

LTC, TC: Thanksgiving was memorable as I was surprised by the food that was shipped in to ensure that soldiers didn’t lack a good meal on the holiday. However, the best part was that our team had the opportunity to break bread together in unique circumstances. Also, I would say the beautiful, encouraging letters sent from family, friends, and pen pals from afar were heartwarming.

TNB: In general, what do you think the nursing profession desperately needs for the future?

LTC, TC: Nurses are problem solvers and innovators. We should continue to cross lanes and work with other disciplines and industries to find creative solutions to old and new problems.

TNB: What advice would you give nurses wanting to pursue or considering a military nursing career?

LTC, TC: If you have the desire to be a part of a team with a greater mission, you are athletic or willing to challenge yourself physically, enjoy learning new things and meeting diverse people, and are dedicated to living a lifestyle of strength in character and leadership, then I would encourage you to consider this highly esteemed profession-whichever branch you feel most closely aligned with in camaraderie, mission and values, and career growth.

TNB: Where is your focus today regarding your career or professional growth?

LTC, TC: I recently graduated from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences with a Ph.D. in Nursing Science, specifically focused on nutrition and warfighter health. My research centered on understanding the health benefits of flavonoids commonly found in fruits (i.e., berries) and their bioactive ingredients. My research found that berries, with their high antioxidant profiles, were able to reduce oxidative stress in heart and brain cell models. This is important because consumers need to know that there are portable and accessible whole foods that can work for you to support and optimize your health performance. Additionally, we gain a greater benefit when we pair our nutrition with exercise, adequate sleep, and hydration.

With my professional growth, I hope to continue to connect with an interdisciplinary group of scientists, thought leaders, mentors, and the community to assist in the mission of optimized warfighter health. Additionally, I find it rewarding to pour into the next future generation knowledge and lessons learned that I have gratefully received from others.  

TNB: Do you have any health resources or links you can share that have been helpful to you?

LTC, TC: There are a lot of great resources out there, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the American Heart Association. Additionally, others should know about other unique places to find up-to-date, research-based information. For example, the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) encompasses great resources for military and family needs in support of total health and Operation Supplement Safety that anyone can use as part of their health knowledge tools. 

TNB: What’s your takeaway message?

LTC, TC: I hope this interview provides another perspective and example of the importance of being authentic and challenging oneself. Growth can be extraordinarily meaningful when connected to an awesome village of inspiring people you choose to surround yourself with. Nurses can be versatile in carving out their paths. A great mentor once told me, “Don’t be afraid to be a purple ant.” So, what problem can you help to solve using your talents for tomorrow? Go get it! 

From all of us here at The Nursing Beat, we thank Lieutenant Colonel Currie for her time and especially her service!

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