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Nurse serves two worlds in Guam

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Daniel Nathaniel
  • 624th RSG Public Affairs
She promised her grandmother she would become a nurse.

"My grandmother always wanted to go into nursing," said Capt. Betty Ann Buentipo, a reservist with the 724th Aeromedical Staging Flight at Andersen AFB.

Grandmother had wanted to become a nurse but didn't have the money to pursue her dream. Betty Ann was the only other family member interested in nursing and promised her grandmother at her deathbed that she would become a nurse.

In 1999, while pursuing a bachelor in science nursing degree at the University of Guam, she began working as a nurse's aide at Guam Memorial Hospital. After graduating in 2000, she worked her way to becoming a nurse at GMH that same year.

Working in the Emergency Department at Guam Memorial Hospital is a very challenging experience, according to Maria Perez, guest relations coordinator.

The department sees more than 27,000 patients a year. The workload keeps rising because of the population growth on Guam and the influx of patients from neighboring islands.

"The hardest thing is that we are the only hospital on Guam," said Captain Buentipo. "We don't have a big enough facility to take care of the population of Guam, and we have a lot of sick people."

Captain Buentipo said her job calls for her to be more than an emergency room nurse.

"I have to transition to becoming an ICU nurse, to being a pediatric nurse, to a surgical attendant to a telemetry nurse because there are no rooms, and we have to take care of all of these patients," she said.

Despite these challenges, she reminds her coworkers to treat all patients like they were their own family.

Caring for others was something Captain Buentipo got from her grandmother, but it was her brother's service in the Air Force that inspired her to join the Air Force Reserve and the 724th ASTF in July 2007.

Although she is a nurse in both worlds, there are significant differences between her nursing work in the civilian sector and in the military.

As an ER nurse, she performs a significant amount of hands-on clinical work and some paperwork. In the Air Force Reserve, she does some clinical work but handles a lot more administrative work.

Both of her worlds crossover and influence each other, and the 724th ASTF benefits from that experience.

"Captain Buentipo brings invaluable skills as an ER nurse," said Capt. Leonora Urbano, 724th ASTF clinical nurse. "She trains our medical technicians in skills such as gastric tube insertion, resuscitation skills, care of fixator pins and more."

The captain's military experience has not gone unnoticed by her co-workers at Guam Memorial. One popular story involves a doctor who ordered her to do something that she correctly believed she didn't have to do.

"She told him that he wasn't in her chain of command." said Jennifer Cruz, nursing administrator, laughing.

Captain Buentipo has definitely shown a lot of growth since joining the Air Force, said Ms. Cruz.

This military experience with concepts such as "chain of command" has definitely helped her as she takes on extra administrative duties at the hospital.

Although she fulfilled her grandmother's wish, pursuing that dream hasn't always been easy.

"I remember going through nursing school, and I would go to her gravesite every day and cry 'I want to quit, I want to quit,'" she said. "But I always went back to the promise I made her on her deathbed that I wouldn't stop until I finish.

"I think that she would be proud," said Captain Buentipo.

The 724th Aeromedical Staging Flight, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, is part of the 624th Regional Support Group, headquartered at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, which is the largest Air Force Reserve presence in the Pacific. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)