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    USS Gerald R. Ford’s Ship’s Nurse: Saving Lives is Her Calling


    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Adonica Munoz | Lt. Cmdr. Susan Murphy, from Modesto, California, USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78)...... read more read more



    Story by Seaman Apprentice Manvir Gill 

    USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)           

    When Lt. Cmdr. Susan Murphy, from Modesto, California, USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) nurse, raised her hand and took the oath of enlistment in 2004, she never expected that 18 years later she would become Ford’s nurse. For her it has been a long journey filled with multiple challenges, including a harsh childhood and homelessness, to achieve her dreams.
    “I had a brother who had a pretty significant mental illness,” said Murphy.
    Despite winning the spelling bee and skipping a grade, most of her parents’ time and attention was dedicated to her brother’s violent behavior due to his mental illness. The stress led to her parents’ divorce and her father became depressed and bedridden, leaving the family with no money. Meanwhile, Murphy’s mother remarried a man from church.
    “This guy ended up being a con-man and a sex offender,” said Murphy.
    Every time her step-father was around Murphy he got violent, and when she told her mother about the incidents, her mother would choose her new husband over her children.
    “Very, very easily, very quickly, I became homeless at the age of 16,” she said. “A lot of people look at me and they say, ‘How did you end up homeless?’ It just comes and you can’t believe that it’s happening to you.”
    After realizing she was hanging around the wrong people, the wrong boyfriend and clinging to her job as a bagger at a grocery store, Murphy had an epiphany.
    “I’m going to be addicted to drugs, pregnant at a young age, or my life is going to go nowhere,” she remembers thinking.
    To turn her life around, she chose to enlist as a way of escaping her situation at home. After the Air Force told her they had no medical related options open, she went around the block to see what the other recruiting offices had to offer. Walking past the Army office she saw posters of Soldiers rucking and decided that she did not want that for herself. As a 17-year-old looking for an escape from her situation, the pullup bars in the Marine Corps office did not speak to her either. As she came up to the Navy office she saw a poster inside of a swim call and made her decision with one simple phrase leveraging everything.
    “I can swim,” said Murphy.
    Those three words would begin her long and fruitful career in the Navy that started as a deck seaman through the General Detail Targeted Enlistment Program. This program, her chief recruiter had told her, would allow her to become the corpsman that she wanted to be as long as she remained out of trouble. During the last day of her civilian job, her co-workers threw her a party and 10 days later on Feb. 24, 2004 Murphy joined the Navy at the age of 17. Due to an event at her command that expedited her transfer, she became a corpsman earlier than she had expected.
    “I went to Naval Hospital Bremerton and at the time they still had an intensive care unit,” said Murphy. “They were like ‘Oh you can work in family medicine. It’s really easy. You’re going to like it.’ and I was insulted.”
    She made it clear to the corpsman showing her around that she had come there to work, and was adamant that the intensive care unit (ICU) was where she was going to get the experience that she strived for. Seeing the ICU nurses in action made her realize how much she wanted to do what they did.
    “It was like I was struck by lightning,” said Murphy.
    She was inspired by the ICU nurse’s ability to do five things at once while also training other nurses and corpsmen and she aspired to be like them.
    After realizing several times that saving lives was her calling, despite being very junior in the Navy she worked herself to the bone to apply for the medical enlisted commissioning program. Several people told her she was unlikely to be selected during her first cycle, but her hard work and skill paid off and she was picked up her first time applying.
    At her first command as a nurse she was elated to finally get the chance to achieve her dream of being an ICU nurse. However, her spirits were crushed when she was placed as far away from the ICU as someone can get – psychology.
    “I was so discouraged by that, but it happened to be a great experience being in the psych unit. I learned invaluable skills that I continue to use as a nurse today,” said Murphy.
    With the junior Sailors that she mentors today, she reminds them that they have to want their dreams, to not say that they want to be something, but that they will be what they dream to be.
    “I have had the blessing of watching my Sailors grow and come to the realization that they are amazing; setting a goal and going after it,” said Murphy.
    Murphy’s favorite part of her job is nurturing the junior hospitalman at a patient’s bedside and watching them grow from being afraid of the hundreds of pieces of equipment, to confidently saving someone’s life in an emergency.
    Seeing a patient walk out of a hospital after being there for the worst moments of their life and being there to provide compassionate care for them during that time is what drives Murphy to keep working and doing her best as Ford’s Nurse.
    “Getting people back to their families is my job,” she said. “I’m a sixth-generation nurse; it’s in my DNA. I care so much and I hope that’s evident in how hard I work here and how hard I’ve worked everywhere else.”



    Date Taken: 11.03.2021
    Date Posted: 11.03.2021 10:01
    Story ID: 408592
    Location: NEWPORT NEWS, VA, US
    Hometown: MODESTO, CA, US

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