Staffer in the Spotlight: ICU Nurse Finds Niche in Air Force

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Petsche-staffer.jpgWASHINGTON, DC—Air Force Capt Julie Petsche’s interest in medicine was first piqued when as a sick child she went to the hospital. That experience, coupled with her fondness for science, eventually took her on a trajectory from Army National Guard medic to Air Force clinical nurse.

Petsche hails from Petersburg, NE, and describes herself as coming from a “military friendly family,” that includes other family members who have served or are serving in the military.

Her experience with the armed forces began when she served as a medic in the Army National Guard for about six years. She decided on nursing as a profession while taking college classes, and in 1997 she achieved that goal. “I love helping sick patients,” she said.

Even after her days in the Guard were over, military service continued to interest her as she worked as a nurse in the civilian sector. Not only would joining give her an opportunity to help servicemembers involved in the current conflict, but the benefits associated with joining would help her return to school. “I like change, I like patients, and people needed us overseas,” she said of her desire to join the military.

With several years of experience as an ICU nurse already under her belt, Petsche joined the Air Force in 2007. She says that serving as a staff nurse in the ICU at Wilford Hall Medical Center suits her. She cares for a wide range of sick patients and every day on the job is a bit different, which she likes.

She cites her deployment to Balad in 2008 as one of her proudest professional experiences. “We cared for a lot of Iraqis and Americans,” she said. “It was rewarding. One of the perks of being in the military is that you really do get to learn your skill and get to help those heroes you admire so much.”

She was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for outstanding achievement for her service as a clinical nurse while deployed. She was credited with delivering care during her deployment to more than 200 critically ill military and civilian patients. In addition, she supervised 14 medics in their support of more than 400 patient admissions and in their response to 136 arriving trauma patients, among other accomplishments. “You experience things when you are deployed that you don’t get to see here every day, as far as trauma goes,” she said. “I learned so much when I was [deployed.]”

Petsche is looking forward to pursuing further education to advance her career goals. She has been accepted to a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists program which will begin this summer.

Staffer in the Spotlight highlights the work of individual healthcare professionals making a significant difference improving the well-being of their patients.

Do you know someone who should be recognized for their hard work? We welcome nominations via e-mail to Editor@USMedicine.com.

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