Service in the Service

“Service in the Service,” New Era, Apr. 2009, 39

Service in the Service

Elizabeth “Buffy” Tateoka Fairbanks of Holladay, Utah, loves serving others, and she always wanted to work in the medical field. But by the time she graduated with a degree in biology, she realized medical school wasn’t for her.

Then she discovered a 15-month accelerated nursing program that seemed a perfect fit. Still, she would need help with tuition expenses. Buffy looked into scholarships and found that the military offers tuition assistance programs for those on active duty as well as for those who finish their military service.

“I decided to join the Navy because my husband, Tom, is already in the Navy. He received a scholarship to pay for his degree in mechanical engineering,” she says. After discussing the idea with him, and making it a matter of fasting and prayer, Buffy applied for and received a scholarship “to help me get through nursing school and become a registered nurse.”

The Nurse Candidate Program

Buffy was accepted into the Nurse Candidate Program. “I wasn’t required to do anything but go to school and pass my state licensing exam after graduation,” she explains. “But once I graduated, I was commissioned in the Navy Nurse Corps.”

Nursing school, Buffy discovered, emphasizes critical thinking skills and ways to apply those skills as a nurse. “It was exciting to come through the program knowing how to help save people’s lives,” she says. “I enjoyed learning how to care for patients and getting to know them as individuals.”

The thought of serving in the Navy appealed to Buffy’s sense of adventure as well as her desire to serve others. “In addition to getting help to pay for my schooling, I also knew the Navy would provide opportunities for experiences that I otherwise wouldn’t have.”

Serving in the Military

Serving in the military means time away from home and family. Fortunately, Buffy and her husband are stationed near each other and they can be together. Even during times of separation, the Internet helps them communicate with each other frequently.

They also know how important it is to rely on their testimonies of Jesus Christ to repel Satan’s temptations. She says, “We are all faced with adversity throughout our lives, and sincere prayer and staying in tune with the Spirit are important to keeping us on the right path, and also help us when we have difficult decisions to make.”

Buffy knows that faith and prayer are important in choosing educational and career paths—and in life in general. She knows that for her, choosing to join the Navy and become a nurse helps fulfill her desire to serve others.

Photograph by Janet Thomas