With the threat of war at hand, many people are wondering who will be called to fight next. One student at this university is sitting and waiting for that phone call to come.
Ann Mitchell, a sophomore Pre-Med respiratory care major, is also a member of the Army Reserve Unit since May 2000.
“It was a spontaneous choice to join the reserves,” said Mitchell. “I did it for the adventure, but I also wanted to get experience in the medical field.”
After high school, Mitchell decided to join the force. In November of 2000, she left Fort Jackson, SC. This is the base where she will have to complete her basic training.
“This was the hardest part of my whole experience. It was a definite mental challenge. I couldn’t let it get to me,” said Mitchell. “I had to go through it, though. It was the only way that I would be able to get what I wanted. I joined the army because I wanted to learn about respiratory care.”
For ten weeks, Mitchell learned how to defend herself and gained her certifications in such weapons as an M16 and grenades.
She graduated and continued on to Fort Sam Huston in San Antonio, Texas. At this army base, she was required to take medical specialist courses. This is where she gained the knowledge to become EMT certified. This part of the training went on for ten weeks.
“This part of the training gave me further knowledge about what I really wanted to do. When I got this certification, I was finally ready to start studying respiratory therapy,” said Mitchell.
The respiratory therapy part of the training lasted for eight weeks. It is divided up into two sections. The first is classes and the second was hands-on work. These classes were taught at the Brooke Army Medical Clinic.
“The classes were skill classes,” said Mitchell. “They taught us all the skills we needed to acquire before going into a real medical situation.”
There are six skills that Mitchell had to obtain.
The first was the surgical intensive care unit. This deals with mainly with shot victims.
The medical intensive care unit was the second class. It deals with people who are going to have heart bypass surgery.
Neonatal intensive care unit deals with the birth of premature babies.
The pulmonary functions lab is the place where they test patients before they go into surgery.
The burn unit helps people with burns and lasty, the Stepdown ward gives patients nebutizer respiratory medicine.
“I was very happy with my accomplishments in these courses,” said Mitchell. “I even graduated number one in my medical specialist program.”
With the knowledge under Mitchell’s belt, she went on to take an exam to see if she could go onto the next part of the course. This test can only be taken once.
“If you fail it, you are out of the class,” said Mitchell.
During the clinical part of the four-week course, Mitchell was able to get the real hands-on work she wanted.
“My role was to care for the patients and to make sure they got all the medication and attention that they needed,” said Mitchell.
After completing all the training, Mitchell graduated in February of 2002. She went on to travel across Europe, but then decided that she wanted to obtain her National certification for respiratory therapy, so she took the National Certification exam.
“After I passed this test, I got my license to practice respiratory therapy in the state of Virginia,” said Mitchell.
Instead of starting a practice, Mitchell decided that she wanted to acquire a college degree for respiratory therapy.
“I knew I wanted to go back to school,” said Mitchell. “It was kind of a spontaneous decision to go here. The college even let all my army classes transfer to the school.”
Mitchell said that she is here only to gain her core classes so that she can get a college degree.
“If things go as planned, I will graduate next year,” she said.
Even with the lack of a full four years in college, Mitchell is still happy with the road she decided to travel upon.
“I gained many things through the army,” said Mitchell. “I don’t mind that I didn’t have the ‘traditional’ college experience.”
Mitchell said that she would not trade in any of her experiences.
“My favorite part of the whole experience was the hands on experience I received at the clinic,” said Mitchell.
Even with thoughts about war on her mind, Mitchell still lives her life day to day.
“This is a very intense time for me. I know if it happens, I can get called to go. It is definitely a strange thought,” said Mitchell. “I can be called at anytime. I can go anywhere that I am needed. This includes overseas. But wherever I go, I know that I will be working in a hospital.”
With the thought of war becoming a reality at any moment, Mitchell admits that she smells the stench of fear.
“I am definitely feeling a little bit of fear,” said Mitchell. “But, I would rather go there and fight then see more buildings come crashing down. I don’t want to see that happen again.”