DNP student’s path to advanced practice began in the U.S. Navy

When I'on Jarmond finished high school, it seemed impossible to envision where he is today.

“I barely graduated,” Jarmond said. “And I mean barely.”

Born and raised in Hampton, Virginia, Jarmond joined the U.S. Navy at 19 and served for 20 years as a Navy Fleet Marine Force Corpsman. Now, at 48, he’s pursuing his doctor of nursing practice (DNP) at the Wayne State University College of Nursing. This comes less than a year after completing the rigorous bachelor of science in nursing program for veterans (VBSN) and delivering a speech at the college’s December 2020 commencement ceremony.

“From being the commencement speaker to now being on my way to earning my doctorate, my mind is blown,” Jarmond said. “I know I’m destined for great things.”

Jarmond at the College of Nursing's annual White Coat Ceremony

Military medicine

Jarmond’s grandfather — a U.S. Army medic during the Korean and Vietnam wars — inspired his choice to make medicine the focus of his military service. As a Navy corpsman, Jarmond trained in combat medicine and other specialties, providing care in the field and a variety of clinical settings, from neuropsychiatry to labor and delivery. His military career took him throughout the country and around the world, including wartime service in Iraq with the Second Battalion, Eighth Marines out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

In Fallujah, Jarmond treated gunshots, battle wounds and other traumatic injuries, caring for more than 700 people in just eight months.

“I saw things there I don’t think I’ll ever see again — things I don’t think I’ll ever have to do as a nurse.”

Becoming a nurse

Jarmond with his wife, Karen (left) and children, Mia (top right), Ella (bottom right) and Deisel (bottom left)

After retiring in 2012, Jarmond earned three associate degrees from Frederick Community College in Maryland. He briefly considered a career as a physician assistant before deciding to become a nurse.

“Nursing is so versatile; I knew I would have more choices,” he said. “I worked side by side with nurses in the Navy. I understood and respected what they do."

Jarmond’s wife, Karen, who grew up just outside of Detroit, graduated from Wayne State and encouraged him to explore opportunities at her alma mater. After a closer look at the College of Nursing, he knew it was the right fit.

“With top-ranked programs and a degree pathway specifically for veterans, why wouldn’t I want to be here? Everything about Wayne State fit my criteria,” he said.

Jarmond got to work in the demanding VBSN program, navigating coursework and clinical training while balancing responsibilities at home as a father of three. Throughout the 18-month program, he relied on support from his wife and the camaraderie of his cohort.

“It’s nice to be recognized with something specifically for us like the VBSN program,” he said. “We were a small group from all different military backgrounds, but we shared a common bond.”

Like many students, Jarmond had to overcome incredible challenges while pursuing his degree during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the deaths of his father and mother-in-law in the span of 11 days.

“I was in my third semester doing medical-surgical training at the time, but I had to keep going,” he said. “Getting through the personal struggles while juggling school and family life — if I can do that, I can do anything.”

Military mindset

Jarmond during his deployment in Iraq

In the Navy, Jarmond was often the only medical professional available, free to perform minor surgeries and in-depth procedures as needed. Nursing school required a different approach, aided by a veteran’s unique perspective.

“There’s a difference between the military way of life and the nurse’s way of life,” Jarmond explained. “Nursing school taught me the foundations of why I did what I did as a corpsman, the small things and the science behind those procedures I did simply because I had to.”

Jarmond’s military values were an asset during his BSN program and will undoubtedly serve him well through an intensive DNP curriculum.

“As veterans, we bring attention to detail, consistency and absolute discipline. All of those military values are instilled in us,” he said. “I keep that with me and bring it into nursing. Without those, I don’t think I could make it through.”

A new mission

Jarmond is focusing his DNP studies on the family nurse practitioner (FNP) specialty, attracted to the ability to care for patients across the lifespan.

“As an FNP, I can care for everyone from children to the elderly; I can watch someone grow through their life. That is very appealing to me,” he said.

In the VBSN program, students conduct a majority of their clinical rotations at Detroit’s John D. Dingell Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. As he begins the next phase of his journey in nursing, Jarmond hopes to apply his advanced skill set as a nurse practitioner in the VA, serving the community that’s closest to his heart.

“I know what they’ve been through because I’ve been through it myself,” Jarmond said. “It’s a culture I'm a part of, and there’s a trust factor there. That kind of trust can lead to better care and better outcomes. I want to provide that.”

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