Military nursing is a career path that offers professional opportunities, a sense of family, and a commitment to meaningful service. Military nurses are especially proud of their profession on Veteran’s Day. Andrea C. Petrovanie-Green, MSN, NC, RN, USN, AMB-BC, CAPT(Ret) and a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) says nursing is a calling. “It is a gift to help in ‘shaping care where life happens,'” she says. “Personally I am committed to paying it forward and mentoring current and future nurses to realize their full potential.”
CAPT Petrovanie-Green was born in Trinidad and Tobago and raised by her maternal grandmother until she was 13. At that age, she and her brother immigrated to the United States to live with her mother, stepfather, and sister. But Petrovanie-Green never forgot the important lessons from her grandmother. “She was wise beyond her years,” she says. “I learned early on the importance of service and reaching back to help those less fortunate.” Her path to a military nursing career began with those embedded principles.
Petrovanie-Green says she seeks out ways to give back and is currently finishing up a medical mission in Guyana to help promote health and wellness in communities that have limited access to healthcare and resources. After that, you can find her training for the St. Jude half marathon in December and raising money to help end childhood cancer. “This is my 15th year participating and thus far I’ve raised almost $5000,” she says.
How did you find your career path to nursing and to the Navy? How did they merge?
I was fortunate to attend a high school that offered a practical nursing program, and it was there my nursing career journey began. In addition, I volunteered at a local hospital as a candy striper and as soon as I was able to work, my first job was serving gourmet dinners to new parents at St. Vincent’s Medical Center on Staten Island, New York.
During high school I worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant at a local nursing home and home health aide. Upon graduation I successfully passed the Licensed Practical Nursing exam and was promoted to Charge Nurse. While attending Wagner College, I was selected for a Navy nursing scholarship, and following graduation I was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy in 1993. I retired in May 2023 after 30 years of honorable and faithful service to our great nation.
You are a long-time member of AAACN. How does that help you as a nurse?
I was encouraged to become a member of AAACN by my mentor Dr. Wanda Richards who is a retired Navy Nurse Corps Captain. At the time, I was working in orthopedic clinic and immediately began preparing for the certification exam. During my first conference, I felt a strong sense of this is exactly where I want to be. The passion, energy, and commitment to ambulatory care nursing was palpable during every session and with each encounter. The focus on health, wellness, and disease management aligned with the military health system.
As a professional nurse, becoming certified demonstrates your commitment to your specialty and more importantly your patient population. AAACN has been an unwavering supporter in helping chart the course for ambulatory care nursing in the military. I am grateful for the many opportunities such as this to serve as a voice for the future of nursing.
What nursing and professional skills are most essential in your role?
As an ambulatory care nurse, developing a partnership with patients and their families is most essential for building trust and improving health and well-being. According to a Gallup poll in 2022 nursing was rated the most trusted profession for 21 years in a row! The art of listening and effective communication is critical in further enriching these relationships to achieve desired outcomes. When patients feel valued and heard they are more willing to be a an active participant in their health care and decision making. As a reminder to myself, I often reflect on Dr. Maya Angelou’s quote “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
What would you like other nurses to know about a career in military nursing?
Military nursing is very unique and offers a plethora of opportunities for advanced training, education, and leadership early in your career. Wearing the cloth of the nation and the opportunity to care for our fellow comrades and their families is a rewarding and life-changing experience. In addition, if traveling and living in different countries appeals to you, then serving in the military may be a good fit. To be fully transparent there are many sacrifices such as being away from family and loved ones as well as physical requirements. Coming from a small family, I especially appreciated the relationships, camaraderie, and lifelong friendships.
Why is it so essential to have a diverse representation of nurses in the military?
In caring for Sailors, Soldiers, Marines and their families, it is essential to have a diverse representation of military nurses. In addition, global engagement with deployments and humanitarian missions strategically position military nurses to provide care to diverse cultures and backgrounds. Training on cultural competence focusing on nursing implications is a prerequisite with annual review and update as needed.
What do you find most exciting or most meaningful about your career and what you have accomplished?
Most exciting about my career was having the opportunity to serve onboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort when we embarked on our first humanitarian mission to Latin America and the Caribbean. My experience working as a member of the medical operations team was outside my comfort zone, and I was excited for the challenge. I learned valuable skills in communication and coordination and the relationships developed with our host nations was truly humbling. The highlight of our mission was returning to my home country of Trinidad and Tobago serving as an ambassador for the United States. Reflecting back on this experience always brings a sense of grace and gratitude.