Arizona Nursing Alumna Saves Lives as a United States Air Force Night Nurse

July 9, 2019

Alumna Spotlight: Amy Aragon Pollock, BSN, RN, CNOR,  First Lieutenant, United States Air Force; Arizona Nursing 2015 Bachelor of Science in Nursing Graduate; Night Charge Nurse, currently deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan

Why did you choose a career in nursing?

The seed was planted when I was a child living in upstate New York. At a young age, I had the responsibility of assisting my mother, who had been diagnosed with Lyme’s disease. Her diagnosis took place in the ‘80s, when medical treatment was limited to infused chemotherapy meds. The home health nurses that visited our house educated me on the process of infusing these medications so that I could help when they were unable to make it to our home. The seed had begun to grow and I wanted to branch out and help more people.

"When I learned that the College of Nursing’s BSN program was one of the most competitive and highly ranked programs in the nation, I knew this is where I needed to attend nursing school.” ~ Amy Aragon Pollock, BSN, RN, CNOR, First Lieutenant, United States Air Force

Why did you choose the UA BSN program?

During the ‘90s we moved to Tucson. In eighth grade I was a member of the University of Arizona’s Academic Preparation for Excellence (APEX) program, which was my first exposure to the UA. Due to having several careers prior to attending the UA, I was not a traditional student. When I learned that the College of Nursing’s BSN program was one of the most competitive and highly ranked programs in the nation, I knew this is where I needed to attend nursing school.

What led to your Air Force nursing career?

I enlisted into the Air Force Reserves in 2003 as a surgical technician. I was very fortunate for the opportunity to train at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, the Air Force Academy in Colorado, and at David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base in California. I continued this career path with a job opportunity as a surgical technician at Northwest Medical Center in Tucson. I worked as part of the orthopedic, general, and cardiovascular surgical teams. Being a member of these teams allowed me to grow, learn and become a better surgical technician.

When I entered the military in 2003, my dream was to commission as an officer into the Nursing Corps and eventually retire as a Lieutenant Colonel, or even better, a Colonel. In 2018, after two and a half years of the rigorous application and interview process, my dream became my reality. I commissioned into the United States Air Force and now I am currently a 1st Lieutenant. I have the honor to treat the population I am so passionate for. 

Can you tell us about the skills you learned in the BSN program that have helped you most in your current duties?

Attention to detail along with critical thinking has definitely helped me as an operating room nurse. The utilization of incorporating evidence-based practice into my everyday tasks in the operating room has helped me to provide the best care to my patients. The dreaded care plans that we all had to write have proven to be beneficial in my understanding of nursing processes in my daily routine. Additionally, the Sim Lab experience is unlike any other! The scenarios were extremely helpful. Allowing me to practice my nursing skills without the pressure of a hurting real patients enabled me to become more confident in my skills as a nurse.

Describe a typical work day as an Air Force Night Charge Nurse.

Every night is a new adventure because no shift is the same as the last. My daily routine is to come in and check the rooms to ensure they are trauma ready. If a surgery is currently taking place, I get a report and relieve the day shift nurse from that case. Currently, our facility has been experiencing traumas on a nightly basis. Patient injuries range from face lacerations due to shrapnel, gunshot wounds, traumatic brain injuries that require immediate craniotomies, amputations of one or all extremities from IED blasts or land mines along with several others. These are just a few examples of the surgeries that may have to performed for a trauma patient. Regardless of which patient may come in, we are always ready. The critical care skills I acquired through Center for the Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills (C-STARS) training and Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) taught me to quickly assess a patient. However, nothing beats the firm foundation built by my formal education from Arizona Nursing.

What is most meaningful to you about this work?

The most meaningful part about being an Air Force Surgical nurse is the population that I have been entrusted to care for. I treat our Active Duty members and their family members. Furthermore, I have the honor to treat veterans that have fought bravely for our country. At David Grant Medical Center, we treat all branches of the military, which to me is an immense privilege. Currently I am deployed and have the pleasure of treating our people as well as the Afghan population and host nations. It has been a very humbling and eye-opening experience to care for others from around the world.

Can you tell us about your hopes and plans for the future?

My career plan for the future is to earn my Masters of Public health. Currently, I am enrolled in my first semester of the MPH program at Grand Canyon University. I’m hopeful that this plan will allow me to take part in humanitarian missions and travel the world.  I would like to provide education plans and resources for different populations, which may include aiding in proper hand hygiene, disease prevention, how to procure clean water.

When I am not traveling the world I would like to offer my knowledge and experiences through teaching at a university level. The overwhelming amount of support and the evident passion of the instructors at Arizona Nursing has given me the motivation to provide this same passion to future nurses through the same route.