Angela Brown was in Guam when her last year of nursing school began, deployed to Andersen Air Force Base as a Washington Air National Guard medic.
Because she is an RN-BSN student at the Washington State University College of Nursing, she can do most of her course work remotely. But for several months she took four nursing classes, worked in the base clinic during the day, was on call nights, weekends, and holidays, and walked from her barracks to the USO to study because the wi-fi was better there.
“If you want to do it, you’ll find a way, and if you don’t, you’ll find an excuse,” Brown said of the experience.
Now Tech. Sgt. Angela Brown of the 141st Medical Group is on track to get her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from WSU in December.
Along the way she has worked full-time as a cardiac nurse at Providence Holy Family Hospital in Spokane, was named an Armed Forces Person of the Year by Greater Spokane Incorporated, and has been deployed twice.
“I’m a ‘rip the Band-Aid’ person – make it hurt now and later it’s great,” she said of herself.
Brown enlisted in the Air Force Reserve in 2010. She’d been working as a real estate appraiser but the collapse of the housing market persuaded her she needed a recession-proof career. “I figured military and medical was the way to go,” she said. She later transferred to the Air National Guard.
She got her associate degree in nursing from Spokane Community College, and entered WSU’s RN-BSN program in August 2017.
That summer, she was deployed to Fiji to take part in Pacific Angel 2017, a humanitarian assistance mission.
“There were probably 40 to 50 of us,” she said. “We saw nearly 4,000 patients in six days. That was an eye-opener because they had nothing and were so grateful. No one complained. Out of the 4,000 people, not one person said, ‘I’m tired’ or ‘I’m cold.’”
Now 32, she expects to remain in the Air National Guard, but said she hasn’t decided whether she wants to commission as an officer once she receives her bachelor’s degree.
“When you become an officer you’re a lot more of a manager than you are boots on the ground and hands-on patients,” she said. “I don’t want to lose that part.”
She likes nursing because no two patients have the same set of circumstances, she said. Plus, “there’s always something to learn.”