Alumna reaching new heights in U.S. Army

Photo: Pauline A. SwigerBy Hunter Carter
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing alumna U.S. Army Col. Pauline A. Swiger, PhD, RN, CNL, CMSRN, (PhD 2017) has been named Chief of Nursing Research at Madigan Army Medical Center and the Consultant to the Army Surgeon General for Nursing Research.

As Chief of Nursing Research, Swiger will oversee two groups of doctorally prepared staff who focus not only on nursing research, but also on applying evidence-based best practices to improve the U.S. Army’s operations and deliver an unsurpassed level of health care. One group includes researchers who work on priorities aligned with the core mission of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, and the second group includes clinical nurse specialists who integrate research findings into the hospital system.

“These two groups work together. The research group creates new knowledge via evidence-based research and the clinical nurse specialist group implements evidence.  When there is not enough evidence, the clinical nurse specialists identify the gaps for the researchers so we know what to study next,” Swiger said. “This back-and-forth cycle makes it so that fewer problems are overlooked, and that together we can move the profession of nursing forward.”

Prior to this role, Swiger was a nurse scientist and the Deputy Chief of the Center for Nursing Science and Clinical Inquiry at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where she supported nursing research and evidence-based practices to improve operations.

In 2019, Swiger was recognized for her career-long contributions to the field of nursing and patient care delivery. And while her love of research and patient outcomes came from asking a lot of questions and being naturally curious, those traits only intensified when she was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq and saw how her contributions could save the lives of her fellow troops. 

“I was deployed to Iraq on a combat casualty care research team and saw a lot of trauma come through those doors,” Swiger said. “My role was to collect data so that someone could ensure we were doing the right things and see if we could save even more lives.”

Swiger's deployment drew her interest toward conducting research in efforts to improve military medicine and patient outcomes, leading to a master's degree and a PhD from the UAB School of Nursing in health services research.

“Ultimately, my passion for patient outcomes stems from my passion for nurses and the nursing profession,” Swiger said. “If we are not taking care of each other and we are not providing nurses with the appropriate resources and optimal environment to do their job, then we won’t have the best outcomes.”

While earning her PhD, Swiger worked closely with her mentor and professor, Rachel Z. Booth Endowed Chair in Nursing Patricia A. Patrician, PhD, RN, FAAN, and received a two-year, $14,194 award for her study “What Practice Environment Features are Related to Particular Patient Outcomes?” Swiger credits Patrician for her leadership and guidance as she completed her PhD and says that Patrician has had a lasting impact on her career. 

Last modified on December 07, 2021

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