Rory Tedrick, a student in the nurse practitioner master's program at the University of Delaware, recently received the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary's Award for Nursing Excellence.

Serving soldiers

UD nursing graduate student honored for work with veterans

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12:44 p.m., April 1, 2013--Seeing Army nurses at work in Iraq not only inspired Rory Tedrick to pursue a career in nursing but also directed him to serve a specific population — veterans.

Now a full-time nurse at the Wilmington Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a part-time graduate student at the University of Delaware, Tedrick recently received the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary’s Award for Nursing Excellence.

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The award — covering VA Integrated Service Network 4, which encompasses all VA facilities in Pennsylvania and Delaware and one in West Virginia — is one of the highest honors bestowed upon VA nurses.

“I always wanted to work at a VA hospital,” says Tedrick.  “Ever since I served in Iraq, I’ve felt drawn to help vets. For me, everything about the job is focused on thanking these men and women for serving our country.”

And Tedrick thanks them with everything he does — not only providing them with top-notch care but also improving their overall quality of life.

In nominating him for the award, Nurse Manager Laura Selwood noted Tedrick’s leadership skills, his effective use of evidence-based practice to enhance and improve health care outcomes, and his expert nursing practice.

“He maintains a calm environment for frustrated veterans, supports veterans’ decisions to ensure good health choices, and encourages veterans to express frustrations,” she wrote.  “Mr. Tedrick improves care for the entire unit.”

But this veteran-turned-nurse also exemplifies what it means to go above and beyond.

When he learned that many veterans were unable to contact family members from hospital telephones because the phones were restricted to local calls, he organized a donation of calling cards from the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post. He employs music as a therapy for patients, including playing the guitar himself and arranging for an accordion to be brought in for a patient with a terminal condition.

In addition, his personal experience as a veteran enables him to act as an advocate for others. He is credited with encouraging vets to complete paperwork for VA programs and informing them of their rights to file for compensation and pension and vocational rehabilitation, leading to their “having increased autonomy and self-determination.”

Tedrick plans to continue working at the VA after he completes the nurse practitioner program in UD’s School of Nursing. “NPs can work in just about any specialty at the VA,” he says, “from primary care and employee health to women’s health and endocrinology.”

“I see working with vets as kind of a specialty of its own,” he adds. “We care for vets all the way from soldiers who have just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan back to those who served in World War II. I’m honored to care for all of them and to work with an amazing group of nurses at the VA hospital.”

Tedrick earned his bachelor of science degree at West Chester University in 2009 and expects to finish his master’s degree at UD within the next two to three years.  

“I’ve been very pleased with the NP program here at UD,” he says. “It’s really augmented my skills as a nurse.”

Article by Diane Kukich

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