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Registered Nurses
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Featured Profile for Registered Nurse

Brian Gonyou

I’m an Emergency Room nurse in the Air Force, working at Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. If any American hospital can prepare you for Iraq, it would be my hospital. In the Air Force, Wilford Hall Medical Center is unique because we’re the only level one trauma center in San Antonio, and we take civilian trauma cases and medical emergencies. Gun-shot wounds, stabbings, and very bad car accidents all come here.

When I enlisted as a medic 18 years ago, we flew all over Europe and Africa to take care of patients. We’d fly them back and forth from Italy to Germany or anywhere else throughout the region. It was pretty routine, and I knew I wanted to work at a higher level in the medical field. So to continue my education, I took college classes during my off-time. I plugged away with prerequisites in math and science, and then I enrolled full-time in nursing school. To balance my work and education commitments while I was in school, I moved over to the National Guard, which requires a lot less time: One weekend a month and two weeks each year. When I finished my degree, I immediately came back on active duty.

Since then, I’ve had many different work experiences. Over in Iraq, I worked on the ground seeing a variety of patients: military, civilian, coalition forces, etc. We would evacuate Americans, out of Iraq right away, but we were able to provide more complete, definitive care for Iraqi civilians. We’d treat the Iraqis who had complex injuries that the local hospitals were not able to treat. They knew they were in the care of Americans, and they would receive good medical treatment.

On my next assignment I’ll be flying again, as a critical care air transport (CCAT) nurse on a four month rotation in Iraq. Unlike when I was a medic, this time I won’t be taking care of the minimally injured. Instead I’ll be caring for the sickest people there, like patients on ventilators or with head injuries. All these people require very advanced care, which is made harder because of the stresses of flight and constant changes in cabin pressure in the aircraft. CCAT nurses use very high def and complicated equipment to keep track of all the things we need to monitor in flight. Blood pressure, IV pumps, cardiac rhythms and many different pressures of the body are all under constant watch so we can keep patients stable in flight, and get them home and recovering right away.

I feel that military medical technicians definitely have a broader range of responsibility than their civilian counterparts, so the military is a great place to work in medicine. And for me it’s been a great ride.

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