Dedication of Walter Reed’s Navy Nurse Brings Her Back a Third Time

US Navy | 2023-09-20

By From Vernishia Vaughn

With a dynamic upbringing between San Diego, California, Quantico, Va., and Stafford, Virginia area. Lt. Cmdr. Beth Carter's path seemed undeniably intertwined with the military world. With 11 impressive years serving as a nurse in the U.S. Navy, her impactful journey and experiences add to the care she provides active duty service members, veterans, and their families.

Dedication of Walter Reed’s Navy Nurse Brings Her Back a Third Time
US Navy Nurse, Lt Cmdr Beth Carter poses for a photo. Photo by Ricardo Reyes-Guevara.

When asked what inspired her to become a Navy nurse, Carter says her family.

"During Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, my dad and brother deployed several times to Iraq and Afghanistan," said Carter, Walter Reed’s Nurse Deputy Director of Medicine. "And my mom started a non-profit to help military families tending to their injured Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors receiving care at Walter Reed."

Carter witnessed her family's dedication to serving their country and assisting families who spent time at Walter Reed while their loved ones were receiving care.

Influenced by those early experiences, she grew to appreciate the integral role of intelligence and courage in delivering extraordinary nursing care. Throughout her career, she has returned to Walter Reed three times, with a tenure spanning from July 2012 to the present day – a testament to her steadfast commitment to the military medical setting.

Carter's nursing journey has some memorable moments and overwhelming challenges intrinsic to health care. She shared one particularly poignant memory: "nursing a young boy, a gunshot wound to the head victim, back to health and ultimate rehabilitation in India," shared Carter.

Carter, an 11-year Navy nurse, acknowledges the emotional intensity of such experiences yet consistently rises to the challenge, always prioritizing patient care.

When asked to share advice for aspiring military medical nurses, Carter speaks from unparalleled experience within diverse work environments. Her journey has taken her as far as Guam and the prestigious White House, immersing her in many patient populations. For her, "the fulfillment lies in independently navigating "these spheres while constantly learning from diverse patient encounters." Case in point: her enriching experience living in Manchester, England, shaped her to "become incredibly independent, but also taught me the importance of learning from people who don't think like you."

The naval officer originated from humble roots. After graduating from Mountain View High School in Stafford, Virginia, she pursued her higher education at Villanova University.

Although she fondly recalls growing up in Oceanside, California, she now calls Silver Spring, Maryland, home.

In addition to her drive and passion for nursing and commitment to serving men and women of the U.S. military, Carter's decision to return to Walter Reed for a third time is also influenced by her husband's job in the local area.

"In nursing, I found a powerful conjunction of my love for caring and serving - a mission I am committed to in honor of our brave service members, veterans, and their families," shares Carter.

Another contributing factor to her desire and commitment to serve as a Navy nurse comes from collaboration – a successful treatment story of a stroke patient that involved the joint efforts of pharmacy, nursing, and radiology departments was that "by the time he was transferred to Walter Reed, which was 72 hours later, the Walter Reed team didn't believe the patient had a stroke."

For Carter, more is needed to be exceptional in nursing; you should also be effective.

"Effective nurses possess the courage to do what is right, especially when it isn't easy," shared Carter.

Carter hopes her mission to provide exceptional patient care inspires aspiring nurses within and beyond military medical settings.