Memoirs of an Air Force Nurse
By Major Suzette Barber, 366th Medical Group Staff Nurse and Patient Advocate
/ Published October 29, 2010
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- I have the best job in the Air Force. I have the privilege of caring for you and your family. Whether in the clinics or on the inpatient floor, I'm there for you. I am part of your health care team. I ensure you are getting the diagnostic tests you need and help analyze the results. I administer medications and treatments. I know the difference between a tympanic, oral and rectal thermometer, and am not afraid of any orifice. I've got the best job in the world--I'm an officer in the United States Air Force Nurse Corps - an Air Force Nurse.
I care about you medically and emotionally. I see you for who you are, and I love to see you smile. I care about supporting your family and friends, so they can be there to support you. I went into the nursing profession because I believe it is more than a job; it is a calling.
I have many weekends and late-night study sessions invested in my career. I studied long and hard to earn my title, so I could have the privilege of taking care of you and your loved ones. I want to teach you how to better manage your health, illnesses or injuries. I want to make a positive difference in your life. I see you as you are, and I see you at your full potential and hope to guide you toward a healthier you.
Some days I feel my job has an almost overwhelming amount of responsibility. Some days I have to remind myself not to shame my profession with a bad attitude. Those are the days I have to get back in touch with my patience, compassion, love and humility. Those are the days I wish I were perfect. I have to be smart enough to assess a situation and identify potential problems before they become your reality. I plan for the worst and hope for the best.
I make sure to focus on my patient and not their disease. I make sure to focus on how the disease impacts my patient. I treat my patient, not their disease.
I am a bit quirky - I'm the OB nurse who always has my hands on your belly, feeling your contractions. I'm the one on the unit getting excited because you finally had the strength to walk down the hallway on your own. I'm the person, standing in line at the commissary wondering if the person ahead of me has diabetes, high blood pressure or has gotten her flu shot yet. I'm the one crying in the hospital parking lot because a patient died.
I have so much information I want to share with you, and there is so much I can learn from you. I am the person with so many patients to see--and so many medications to give--yet I try hard to take the time to listen. You are not alone. I have an adopting heart. When I am caring for your friend or family member, I remember that they are a member of my family--my military family.
You can count on me to be there on Christmas, Thanksgiving, the 4th of July and New Years --all hours every day of the week. I am the one who says good morning at 1900 and good evening at 0700. We're always open and ready to help.
As your AF nurse I may see you when you are not at your best. In fact, I most likely will see you when you are at your worst. I have the honor of being present at the birth of your child. Often I am there during your most frightening or challenging moments. You won't be there alone - I'll be at your side. I'm your AF nurse and I am honored to have the privilege of serving with you.