In the first two decades of his career, Darren Baldwin was a business professional for Fortune 500 companies, and he owned and operated small businesses. Yet, his success left him unfulfilled.
“I felt a strong calling to be in health care. I felt I had to go to nursing school. It was absolutely the best decision for me,” said Baldwin, now a registered nurse.
As a nursing student, he loved learning about human anatomy, physiology and medical care.
“Nursing is the field where I belong. Through years of leadership experience, I became adept at assessing a situation, diagnosing the problem, developing and implementing a plan, and then evaluating the result. Nursing requires those skills to be applied to patient care,” Baldwin said. After earning a nursing degree, he accepted an internship at the En Route Care Research Center. It was an opportunity to be fully engaged in health care and expand his knowledge of nursing.
Research appointments, such as the En Route Care Research Center internship, are available at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) facility in San Antonio, Texas. The appointments, recruited and administered by Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), are available to undergraduate students from accredited colleges and universities. The intent of the internship is to provide an opportunity for students interested in science, engineering or medical career fields to participate in research directed at improving the care of injured military service members and society at large.
The En Route Care Research Center conducts research of combat critical care. The medical professionals look at the treatment and interventions received by wounded soldiers from the point of injury to the first medical facility they are taken to for treatment, Baldwin explained. Their research also extends to the care involved on Critical Care Air Transport Teams flights to medical treatment centers.
Under the direction of his mentor, Lt. Col. Joseph K. Maddry, M.D., Baldwin and other group members conducted research to identify best practices for improving outcomes for wounded soldiers. The research group studied potential future combat dynamics and treatments, and they sought to improve critical combat care treatment guidelines.
“The internship introduced me to the process of military critical care studies. I benefited from my colleagues’ vast experience, and I learned about nursing and the research process,” said Baldwin. He participated in the development of grant proposals and assisted in writing scientific manuscripts, one of which was accepted for publication in the Journal of Special Operations Medicine.
“Mostly, I learned what it takes to complete a meaningful study to improve lives of soldiers. These studies are crucial to saving lives and improving treatment for service men and women,” he said.
Since completing his internship, Baldwin accepted a position as research nurse coordinator at the En Route Care Research Center. He participates in studies involving the effects of altitude on ventilated or traumatically injured patients. He seeks to identify technologies for triage medics and to develop a tool or algorithm for detecting shock before onset.
“The internship introduced me to my current organization and allowed me to show my abilities. At the same time, the internship allowed me to contribute to the goal of improving combat casualty critical care,” said Baldwin. “The program provided me with a unique and wonderful opportunity that has enriched my career immensely.”
Baldwin said he would recommend this internship program to others. “As an intern, you will be exposed to some of the most brilliant people imaginable. You can take this opportunity to grow your knowledge and expertise,” he said.
“This program allows you the ability to prove yourself if you participate with eagerness and are prepared to learn. And, it will quite possibly be the gateway to a career in a field where you can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives,” Baldwin said.
The program is administered by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) under an agreement between the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).