Global Medical Care

KimStony Brook nurse travels the world to treat patients

Stony Brook Medicine nurse Kim Kaugher, RN, has a deep commitment to treat patients wherever she is most needed. That commitment will serve her well, when she heads out next week to be part of the medical team on a naval base in the Middle East.

Kim, a Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy Center nurse at Stony Brook University Heart Institute, is a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve. She’ll be on leave from the hospital until she returns early next year. This is her second deployment. Several years ago, she was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, where she served at a hospital and took care of American soldiers, NATO personnel and Afghan people.

“It’s important to go when you’re called,” Kim said. “You just have to be ready for anything.”

For her courage and hard work, Kim received a surprise before saying farewell: the Stony Brook Medicine “Outstanding Nurse of the Year” award for heart failure services. It was presented by Alison Rowe, RN, MS, RN, NEA-BC, CEN, Associate Director of Nursing, Emergency Services and Associate Director of Nursing, Cardiology Services, at a ceremony held in the hospital. Friends and colleagues gathered to honor Kim and wish her well in her new assignment.

“Kim has a strong determination to do whatever it takes to treat patients. Combined with her compassion for people and curiosity about other cultures, she’s an asset to us and to the Navy,” said Hal Skopicki, MD, PhD, Chief of Cardiology and Director, Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy Center at Stony Brook Heart Institute. “We’re proud of her and her Stony Brook family will miss her.” 

Although her military orders have not specified exactly what she’ll be doing when she arrives in the Middle East, Kim said she will most likely be working in an emergency room where patients will be stabilized and then transported elsewhere. “The daily routine work that military personnel have to do is often dangerous,” she said. “There will probably be orthopedic injuries, cuts and scrapes, and falls.” Kim said she and her colleagues will also treat any illnesses that arise. They may also take care of local people.

Although Kim will be working hard when she gets to her assignment, she said she looks forward to the chance to “learn and grow as a nurse. I want to challenge myself to be more adaptable to any situation, to work well under pressure.” It’s a dream she has had since she was a teenager, when she watched films and television shows about military nurses. She said she remembers thinking, “Those nurses who went to Vietnam were really awesome.”

Kim’s career at Stony Brook Medicine started 18 years ago in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit. She joined the Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy Center two years ago. “My training at Stony Brook has given me a lot of experience to be able to handle some of the stresses you face during deployment,” she said.

“Kim was my first hire in Heart Failure,” said Stephen Handzel, RN, BSN, MS, Assistant Director of Nursing, Noninvasive Cardiology, in the Stony Brook Heart Institute. “She is a strong person and will do just fine.”