Alumni Spotlight: Jason Muise, Army surgical team commander and nurse
Meet Jason Muise, a 2011 School of Nursing alumnus. He found a way to follow in his family’s footsteps while following his passion for health care. From Afghanistan to Indonesia, his career in the U.S. Army has led him to travel and meet people across the world. As the Commander of the 102nd Forward Resuscitative and Surgical Team (FRST) and an emergency-trauma nurse, he has been called all over the world to care for the injured. We spoke with him to learn more about his career and how Clemson prepared him for it.
Q: What’s a typical workday/week like?
As the Commander of the 102nd FRST, I spend the majority of my time planning, resourcing, and coordinating training for my team. However, I do work as an emergency trauma nurse at Madigan Army Medical Center regularly to keep my skills sharp. My team also packs our equipment and heads into the woods for field training where we practice performing damage control resuscitation and surgery in an austere environment. If needed, we are ready to deploy anywhere in the world to provide surgical and emergency medicine support.
Q: What is a really cool thing about your job?
Working with people from all over the world providing medical care in a variety of environments from the back of an armored vehicle to the inside of a tent to one of the United States’ most advanced trauma and burn centers. The U.S. Army is truly on the cutting edge of medicine – responding to crises worldwide, including the current COVID-19 global outbreak. Being able to provide the best medical care to our Nation’s best has been extremely rewarding. In 9 years, I have been able to travel to over 30 countries on 6 continents.
Q: Are there any job experiences that stick out as particularly memorable?
There are so many that it is nearly an impossible feat to pick just one, so I’ll pick three:
In 2014 while deployed to Afghanistan, our unit cared for a 9-year-old girl who fell victim to a Taliban grenade. She was not cooped up in bed for long, though. After two surgeries she was back on her feet and walking. We watched her stroll out of the hospital and return to her life in the beautiful mountains of Afghanistan.
In 2016 while deployed to Indonesia, I got to fly over the jungles and coastline of Indonesia while returning from a MEDEVAC mission. With the doors of the Blackhawk helicopter open and the sun setting it was one of the most beautiful sights I have seen.
In the summer of 2019, I traveled to Vietnam as a subject matter expert on austere and emergency nursing for the U.S. Army. Working with nurses, doctors, and medics from the Australian and British armies we coached our Vietnamese counterparts, who were heading to South Sudan for a United Nations peacekeeping mission, on the provision of medical care in the field. Not only was this an incredibly fulfilling trip, but we got to tour the beautiful countryside of Vietnam.
Q: Describe your career path since graduating Clemson.
After receiving my degree with a minor in military science, I commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and began working as a medical – surgical staff nurse on the trauma surgical unit at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in 2011. Until 2015, I worked at the medical center in a variety of roles in the trauma, burn progressive care, surgical telemetry and emergency departments.
I also served as the CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Nuclear) and Hazardous Materials Response Officer. In this role, I was in charge of 80 soldiers and airmen as we served the U.S. and the State of Texas to respond to hazardous materials exposures. In June of 2014, I deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and served alongside military medical personnel from 42 nations. It was certainly eye-opening to learn how much of the world is invested in Afghanistan’s future. In 2015, I transferred to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, where I currently live. After working with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division where I helped plan and deliver health care to over 4,000 soldiers on the base, in the field for training exercises, and overseas, I attended the U.S. Army Emergency and Critical Care Nursing Course in San Antonio, Texas.
After graduation, I worked in the emergency department at Madigan Army Medical Center, and recently began commanding one of the Army’s premier forward resuscitative and surgical teams, which consist of surgeons, emergency physicians, nurse anesthetists, emergency and critical care nurses, operating room technicians, licensed practical nurses, and combat medics.
Q: What led you on this path?
While in high school I saw the documentary “Baghdad ER.” My family has a strong history of military service, and when I watched the documentary, I think it imprinted on me. I applied for an army nursing scholarship and was accepted to Clemson’s School of Nursing. I love being outside, and while I was not aware of it as a young nurse, wilderness medicine became one of my favorite aspects of my Army career. Wilderness medicine is the application of the concepts and principals of Emergency and Trauma medicine in remote and austere environments – no power, no running water, no heat or air conditioning. I have since pursued advanced training in this medicine since 2015 and have earned my international diploma in Mountain Medicine and became a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.
Q: How did Clemson prepare you for your career?
Aside from a world-class nursing education, my time at Clemson also allowed me to live and interact with students from all over the globe. This exposure to so many cultures gave me an awareness and appreciation for the things that make us, as people, different and the same. These skills have served me well.
Q: What’s your favorite Clemson memory?
Four years at Clemson provided nearly a lifetime of amazing memories, however, I do recall fondly running along the dikes during morning physical training with ROTC. I saw my first shooting star and countless sunrises during those runs with people I now call family.
Q: Any advice you have students?
Your first year at Clemson will set the tone for the rest of your education. More school will come some day in the future, set yourself up for success. Do not forget that Clemson offers hundreds of incredible ways to grow beyond the classroom from student organizations and clubs to extracurricular classes. Get involved in YOUR CLEMSON EXPERIENCE! Say yes to every opportunity. If you ignore doors as they open, you may miss out on incredible opportunities you would have never known existed otherwise! Take risks, and do not be afraid to fail at something!