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Michele Kane

Auburn Montgomery School of Nursing alumna

Navy Cmdr. Michele A. Kane will be the keynote speaker at Sunday's commencement ceremony at the Auburn Arena. On Tuesday May 6, she will receive the Distinguished Alumna Award from the Auburn Montgomery School of Nursing. Kane earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from AUM in 1992, a master's degree in nursing administration from George Mason University in 1999 and a doctorate in nursing science from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., in 2008. Kane was the first Navy nurse to graduate from the USUHS nursing Ph.D. program. She was also a Master's Scholar at Oxford University in 1999 and one of 38 nurse executives nationwide selected to attend the Johnson and Johnson Nurse Executive Fellowship program at the Wharton School of Business in 2010. Kane has worked at Naval Hospital Jacksonville (Fla.), Naval Hospital Keflavik, Iceland, on the USNS Comfort and as administrative officer to the Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy. Her career at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center started in 2000 and has included serving as the first director of nursing administration and integration for Navy nursing and the first Navy deputy director of the Centers for Nursing Science and Clinical Inquiry. In her most recent post, she was the first Navy Nurse to be director of the Centers for Nursing Science and Clinical Inquiry. Earlier this year, she was named the executive assistant to Lt. Gen. Douglas Robb, director for the Defense Health Agency in Falls Church, Va.

1. How did you decide to major in nursing at AUM?

I had joined the military when I was 17 straight out of high school. It was a very logical progression to go from being a Corpsman (medic) to a nurse. Many of our Navy nurses come from the enlisted side of the house. It is a natural pipeline of career development. At the time, my mother lived in Montgomery, Ala., so when I earned a paid scholarship from the Navy, I decided to return home and pursue a nursing degree at AUM.

2. Explain what you do in your new job with Lt. Gen. Douglas Robb.

The Defense Health Agency was established on Oct. 1, 2013, as a new agency within the Department of Defense. As the executive assistant to the DHA director, I help facilitate and coordinate communication related to special topics and projects for Lt. Gen. Robb with his internal directors, senior leadership and external stakeholders.

3. What was it like to work at Walter Reed, knowing you were impacting the care of our wounded warriors?

Being assigned at Walter Reed was a professional highlight of my career. I was the first Navy Nurse to be director of the Centers for Nursing Science and Clinical Inquiry since the Department of Defense's two largest facilities – Walter Reed Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center – merged in 2010 to become Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

I love clinical research, specifically to bring the latest evidence to the care for our wounded warriors. Caring for those that have been injured and assisting their families was the most rewarding for me. I can't put into words how it makes me feel. These injured men and women deserve so much for their heroic action while in combat. The care of our brothers and sisters is the heart and soul of what we do at Walter Reed. It's our commitment and our honor.

4. A few years ago you made a gift to Auburn Montgomery which established the CDR Michele A. Kane, Ph.D., Endowed Professorship in the School of Nursing. It is the first endowed professorship to be established by a graduate of the School of Nursing. What prompted you to give back to the university in this fashion?

In the military, we talk of legacy, our nursing legacy – what that would look like and how we as leaders contribute to the legacy as we lead and mentor new nurses. As a professor, researcher and military leader, this also means giving back to those who gave me my nursing foundation. I give back to AUM for starting my career.

5. What do you think about Project SERVE, the collaboration between Walter Reed and the Schools of Nursing at Auburn and Montgomery that allows nursing students to learn about the care of our wounded warriors?

Project SERVE was created as an academic practice model to impact the care of our returning service members, veterans and their families. It is the first Department of Defense enterprise to meet the call of First Lady Michelle Obama's Joining Forces Initiative. Walter Reed invited others in to help future nurses better visualize and understand firsthand successful evidence-based treatment modalities about the care of our brothers and sisters that we hold so dear to our hearts. Because we understand the reintegration journey back into the civilian community is the hardest walk our nation's heroes will ever take in their lives, we are handing our family off to you and entrusting you to care for them.

April 28, 2014