Back to Top Skip to main content

The journey to military nursing is different for all

First Lt. Lizamara Bedolla, staff nurse, Surgical Ward, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, stands in one of her unit’s inpatient rooms. Bedolla, a native of Houston, was born in war-torn Nicaragua before migrating to the United States and fulfilling her dream of becoming an Army Nurse. (Army photo by Marcy Sanchez) First Lt. Lizamara Bedolla, staff nurse, Surgical Ward, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, stands in one of her unit’s inpatient rooms. Bedolla, a native of Houston, was born in war-torn Nicaragua before immigrating to the United States and fulfilling her dream of becoming an Army Nurse. (Army photo by Marcy Sanchez)

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics

Army First Lt. Lizamara Bedolla remembers tanks rolling by her house, electricity turning on and off, and the turmoil of war in her home country of Nicaragua. When she was 4 years old, she fled to Mexico with her family as they waited for visas to be approved allowing entry into the United States. As time passed, her family tried to make their way to the U.S. border, where they hoped the visas would be granted.

“We know you’re down there!” Bedolla said border agents yelled as her family navigated through underground sewer systems. Helicopters flew above. They were detained, and after one week, Bedolla and her family received their visas. They eventually settled in Houston, Texas.

Two years later, Bedolla saw an Army recruitment commercial while watching television. At just 6 years old, she told her mother she wanted to be in the Army when she grew up – and 12 years later, that’s exactly what she did.

“I felt such a responsibility to the country that had given me, my sisters, and my family so many opportunities to succeed,” said Bedolla. “I had a really strong sense of loyalty and a really deep desire to give back.”

Bedolla started basic training two weeks after graduating high school. She then spent more than a decade serving as an operating room technician, where she worked with nurses who helped her realize nursing was the career she wanted, she said.

“Before becoming a technician, I had no real experience in the medical field or inclination to being in the medical field,” said Bedolla. “But being an OR tech opened up a whole new world for me. That’s when I realized I could progress in a field, go to school, and learn how to be a nurse.”

Before she could attend nursing school, Bedolla took steps she needed to receive U.S. citizenship, apply for the Army Enlisted Commissioning Program, and take pre-requisite classes at night after working a full-time job. After completing her nursing degree and Officer Basic Course, she began working as a staff nurse at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss, Texas, and has been there since.

“Being a mom, a wife, a soldier, an OR tech, going to school, and balancing all those different aspects of my life to get to where I wanted to be was the most difficult part throughout this journey,” said Bedolla, stressing that she’s always had support from family and leadership that pushed her to excel.

Bedolla isn’t alone in taking a longer path to nursing. First Lt. Mary Lee grew up knowing she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her sisters and become a nurse. But her plans changed after receiving a scholarship to a college that didn’t have a nursing program. She graduated with a degree in health promotion, but after spending a few years in the civilian workforce, Lee felt the desire for nursing again – this time with the Army. After meeting with a recruiter, she learned the unit she’d attach to as a combat medic was already deployed. She opted for photojournalism, which she had some experience in.

“I joined the Army with the intention of doing photojournalism and then later going to nursing school,” said Lee, who deployed to Iraq as a photojournalist and was assigned to a combat support hospital. As a photographer, she learned to be vigilant about what’s going on around her, multitask, and be quick on her feet, she said, adding that the experience proved to be good training for nursing.

After spending a week watching doctors and nurses work with service members, Lee found military nursing appealing, she said. “You’re a soldier first. Not only do you have to be really good with your skills as a nurse, but you also need to be able to fire a weapon and know what to do.”

When she returned to the U.S., she used the GI bill to enroll in nursing school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She trained through ROTC and received her commission as a nurse in the Army when she graduated. Lee worked in the intensive care unit at the university’s hospital tending to patients with head trauma.

“It really felt like that was what I was meant to do,” said Lee, now an Army Reserve officer. “When getting into any new career, you may worry about change, but it all just felt like a very natural transition … I knew I wanted to be an Army nurse.”

Working with TBI patients sparked an interest in mental health and she felt the urge to go back to school for a master’s degree, Lee said. When she’s not training with the 75th Combat Support Hospital in Tuscaloosa, she works as a mental health nurse practitioner providing outpatient mental health services at a community clinic. Her work includes medication management, counseling, substance abuse use treatment, and providing resources for the homeless community, she said.

“Everyone’s journey to becoming a military nurse is different,” said Lee. “I took one of the longer routes by first being enlisted, then doing ROTC, and then becoming an officer, but I encourage anybody who has any desire to do it to at least look into it. It’s opened up so many more opportunities to me than anything else I could have done.”

To Bedolla and Lee, the most rewarding aspect of being a military nurse is the relationships they build with a patient. They are soldiers placed in this position to serve other soldiers when they are called to the battlefield, said Bedolla. And they are ready to serve soldiers, families, veterans, and retirees at home. Bedolla added that she’s inspired by the resiliency of her patients.

“It’s a difficult job but it’s also a very beautiful part of nursing to be there when people are at their most vulnerable, and in the most pain physically and emotionally,” said Bedolla. “Just knowing you can have a hand in bringing people back to health, giving them hope, and giving them a chance to continue on with their life is rewarding.”


You also may be interested in...

Changes to military health care system aimed at readiness

Article
12/6/2019
Speaking before the House Armed Services subcommittee on personnel during a Dec. 5 hearing on Capitol Hill, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Thomas McCaffrey (left), Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place (second from left), director of the DHA, the service Surgeons General, and Joint Staff Surgeon outlined the necessity for the health care system to change in order to support warfighter readiness. (MHS photo)

Merger of all hospitals and clinics to DHA a key step

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Keesler renovates cardiac cath lab to provide better, safer care

Article
12/5/2019
Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Slaven (right), 81st Medical Operations Squadron cardiopulmonary technician, briefs 81st Medical Group staff and guests on cath lab capabilities during the cardiac catheterization laboratory ribbon cutting ceremony inside Keesler Medical Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The lab was upgraded with an entire suite of technology to provide better and safer care for patients and the surgical team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Suzie Plotnikov)

The clinic also has a joint DoD – VA partnership

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics

Military hospital transformation – introducing the market construct

Article
12/5/2019
Barclay Butler, Ph.D., MBA, assistant director of management at DHA, explains the market concept to an audience of active-duty and civilian conference attendees at the 2019 AMSUS Annual Meeting in National Harbor, Maryland, Dec. 4. (Photo by MHS Communications)

Markets will manage hospital and clinic needs within a geographic region

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | MHS Transformation

Tri-Service surgeons perform the first surgeries at new hospital

Article
12/3/2019
The Army, Navy and Air Force surgeons and physician assistant met with the hospital command team. (Left to right) Army Col. Alfonso Alarcon, orthopedic surgeon at BDAACH; Army Maj. Harry Aubin, general surgeon at BDAACH; Army Command Sgt. Maj. Nicole Haines, the hospital senior enlisted advisor; Air Force Capt. Christopher Ng, Air Force general surgeon with 51st MDG; Army Maj. Eric de la Cruz, chief of general surgery at BDAACH; Navy Lt. Cmdr. Paul Lewis and Lt. Cmdr. Dan Sanford, general surgeons with 3rd Medical Battalion; Army Maj. John Fletcher, general surgeon at BDAACH; Army Col. Andrew L. Landers, hospital commander, and Air Force Capt. Steven Maya, physician assistant with 51st MDG. (U.S. Army photo by Inkyeong Yun)

This event showcased the collaboration amongst the tri-service general surgeons

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | MHS Transformation

NMCP hosts ‘The Future of Military Medicine’ discussion panel

Article
12/3/2019
Navy Capt. Joel Schofer, deputy chief of the Medical Corps at the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, talks about the Defense Health Agency transition during Naval Medical Center Portsmouth’s Future of Military Medicine panel. The panel participants were (left to right) Schofer, deputy chief of the Medical Corps at the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Capt. Lisa Mulligan, NMCP’s commanding officer and Capt. Guido Valdes, Navy Medicine East deputy commander (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Imani N. Daniels)

The readiness of the Navy Medicine team is paramount to combat survival in the future

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Keesler Medical Center receives national recognition

Article
11/27/2019
Keesler was one of 56 participating hospitals to be recognized in both patient care categories – all patients and high risk patients. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program recognized Keesler Medical Center

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics

Award-winning Navy team successfully improves care for women, infants

Article
11/26/2019
Labor and Delivery providers were the front-line adopters of the Induction of Labor care pathway at Naval Medical Center San Diego. As of July 2019, over 80 percent of the hospital’s providers were using the pathway. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joseph A. Boomhower)

An award-winning team of nurses successfully implemented a treatment guide at Naval Medical Center San Diego that improves labor and delivery outcomes

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | Children's Health | Women's Health

Ft. Bliss Hospital Replacement

Congressional Testimony
11/22/2019

H.R. 2998 HAC Milcon for FY 2018 115-188 Pg. 27-28

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics

Improvement of Administration of DHA And MTFs

Congressional Testimony
11/21/2019

H.R. 5516, NDAA for FY 2019, Section 711(c) (Defense Health Command)

Recommended Content:

Defense Health Agency | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Lending a helping, healing hand

Article
11/20/2019
Navy Capt. Johannes Bailey, Naval Hospital Bremerton Director for Nursing Services (left) and Navy Lt. Kaitlyn Harmon, NHB Multi Service Unit (right), flank Army 1st Lt. Lauren Odegaard, from Madigan Army Medical Center, for a photo op after thanking her for her assistance. Odegaard provided assistance for the month of October in NHB's MSU to help with staffing shortages. (U.S. Navy photo by Douglas H. Stutz)

Army nurse supports Navy hospital

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | MHS GENESIS

Artificial intelligence makes its way to dermatology clinic

Article
11/18/2019
Air Force Maj. Thomas Beachkofsky, 6th Health Care Operations Squadron dermatologist, uses a body scanner microscope to take a picture of a spot on his arm at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. A new software upgrade allows a complex algorithm to analyze an image captured with a camera and rate the severity of the spot for a dermatologist to review. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Adam R. Shanks)

The software was able to correctly identify 95% of malignant skin tumors

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | Technology

Nellis medical center celebrates 25 years

Article
11/13/2019
Air Force Col. Alfred Flowers, 99th Medical Group commander, and Army Staff Sgt. Michael O’Callaghan, (grandson of the former Gov. O’Callaghan) reveal a portrait of O’Callaghan during a ceremony celebrating the Mike O’Callaghan Military Medical Center’s 25th Anniversary on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Nov. 12, 2019. The portrait will hang in the MOMMC to honor the center's namesake. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum)

The Mike O’Callaghan Military Medical Center celebrated 25 years of operation Nov. 12

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics

Womack Army Medical Center named Level III trauma center

Article
11/12/2019
Local medical partners conduct a 'trace the trauma' tour Nov. 6 after Womack Army Medical Center celebrated their integration into the North Carolina American College of Surgeons Level III Trauma designation. (U.S. Army photo by Twana Atkinson)

Trauma is the leading cause of death for Americans age 45 and younger

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics

Air Force transitions all U.S. military treatment facilities to DHA administration, management

Article
10/31/2019
This October, U.S.-based Air Force military treatment facilities transferred administration and management to the Defense Health Agency. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

Congress directed this transfer in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Joint Army-Air Force-Navy medical partnership saves lives downrange

Article
10/29/2019
Airmen work with members of the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation team to save the life of a NATO troop at the Craig Joint-Theater Hospital on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

More than 100 medics from the 59th Medical Wing deployed

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 7

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.