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Bridging the Military-Civilian Divide

May 12,2017

Top Navy Nurse Describes a ‘Typical Day’ in Navy Medicine

From Navy Medicine Live, the official blog of the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
In honor of National Nurses Week 2017, the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery public affairs office interviewed the Navy’s top nurse, Rear Adm. Tina Davidson, director, Navy Nurse Corps on why she chose a Navy nursing career and what a typical day in the life of a Navy nurse entails. 

Rear Adm. Tina Davidson, official U.S. Navy photo
Rear Adm. Tina Davidson, official U.S. Navy photo

Q1. Why did you choose to become a Navy nurse?

Davidson: After graduating St. Louis University School of Nursing, I worked at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. We had a great team of doctors and nurses and we were extremely proud of the care we delivered. However, there was something missing for me. I felt the need to step out of my comfort zone, even if only for a couple of years. After looking at a variety of options, I decided to join the United States Navy with the plan to return to St. Louis after I completed my three year obligation. I was so nervous, but my biggest motivation at the time was to live in San Diego by the beach and I liked the Navy uniforms. It didn’t take long for me to realize what an honor and privilege it was to care for America’s warfighters and their families. Three years turned into more than 30 years and now I have so many fond memories of my time in the Navy. I can’t imagine a different career.

Q2. What is the most memorable moment in your career as a Navy nurse?

Davidson: I can’t point to one specific memorable moment that stands out above all the rest. What does stand out is all of the wonderful, talented and dedicated people I had the pleasure to serve with over the years. Specifically, teaching and working alongside our hospital corpsmen. The responsibility these young men and women bear on their shoulders is amazing. Corpsmen often work in the fleet and the field in isolation and often in austere environments. It is an honor to see them blossom in their personal and professional development often going on to become officers in Navy Medicine. It is no wonder the Hospital Corps is the most decorated rate in the Navy. I had phenomenal corpsmen when I served as the ship’s nurse aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). I am so proud of them and all our corpsmen.

Hospital Corpsmen assigned to Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8 assist Dutch EOD divers during casualty exercise during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2015.
Hospital Corpsmen assigned to Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit 8 assist Dutch EOD divers during casualty exercise during exercise Baltic Operations 2015.

Q3. Who inspired your career as a Navy nurse?

Davidson: My dad served as a Marine and I always enjoyed hearing his stories of camaraderie and adventure. My uncle was also a Marine who was injured while in Iwo Jima and he had some interesting stories of the Navy nurses who took care of him over the months he spent in Navy hospitals. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, my grandfather who passed away when I was just a child, served in the Navy. I believe I was meant to find my way to the Navy and the Navy Nurse Corps. I enjoyed my work as a civilian nurse, but serving as a Navy nurse took it to a whole other level of personal and professional satisfaction.

Q4. How would you describe a typical day as a Navy nurse?

Davidson: There is no typical day. That is what’s so great about being a Navy nurse. Navy nurses are versatile and care for our warfighters and their families in a multitude of environments, from shipboard, to the field with Marines, as flight nurses, to serving in academic positions teaching corpsmen as well as other nurses. We also have nurses in staff jobs and executive medicine. Regardless of where we serve, we are leaders at every level and committed to lifelong learning.

Cmdr. Dennis Spence, a nurse anesthetist aboard hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), along with a local nursing student, interacts with a Filipino child to determine his viability for surgery. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hank Gettys/Released)
Cmdr. Dennis Spence, a nurse anesthetist aboard hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), along with a local nursing student, interacts with a Filipino child to determine his viability for surgery.

Q5. What advice do you have for someone interested in becoming a Navy nurse?

Davidson: Join the Navy!!! Don’t worry if you are nervous or unsure, that is okay. Whether you decide to stay in for one tour or several, you will be all the better for taking the oath, putting on the uniform and serving those who are so deserving. The Navy Nurse Corps has many opportunities to offer not only in assignments all over the country, but overseas as well.