GW Dental Corpsman brings 'wisdom' to tooth care
PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Life aboard the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) can be described as living in a small city floating in the middle of the ocean, with living spaces, shops, a coffee house, gyms and even a dental clinic.
Even at sea, Sailors are provided quality dental services from a simple cleaning to oral surgery, and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Amber Brace, 24, from Fort Worth, Texas, ensures that quality.
"It is my goal to take the best care of my patients," said Brace. "I want Sailors to know that they can trust me and other dental corpsman to fix their issues."
Brace, who assists the oral surgeon aboard George Washington, started her degree in nursing prior to joining the Navy as a dental corpsman to guarantee her admittance into the corpsman rate.
"I wanted to be a doctor when I was younger," said Brace. "I have a little bit of a white knight complex and I have always wanted to help people."
According to Brace, she changed her mind from wanting to be a doctor to become a nurse because of the special bond that patients and nurses have that doctors are sometimes not privileged to.
"In my opinion, doctors are more like moms and dads, but nurses have a more one-on-one relationship with patients and develop trust," said Brace. "Especially during procedures like oral surgery, I have to ensure my patients have good breathing, aren't in any pain and to stop the procedure if they could be in danger."
As a Navy corpsman, Brace was taught basic emergency medical training and first-aid response.
"Our training school was fast paced and consisted of numerous tests and evaluations," said Brace. "We would get kicked out if we didn't pass."
Brace completed initial corpsman school before proceeding to further training to become a dental corpsman, where she received dental-related training to include how to take X-rays, correctly make entries in medical charts, and find signs of gum diseases and cavities.
"As a dental corpsman aboard a forward deployed aircraft carrier, I have really learned a lot about myself and about what I can and can't handle," said Brace. "I take as many opportunities to learn more about my rate as I can, as well as outside of the dental community."
Brace does not only fulfill her own responsibilities. To test her knowledge, she also responds to medical emergency drills even though dental corpsmen are not required to participate.
"I like to test myself and try to figure out the best way to handle an emergency," said Brace. "The medical field is a little like a puzzle and I want to solve it to quickly get the patient taken care of."
Brace worked at the base hospital during George Washington's selective reserve availability period at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, to assist the hospital's corpsmen.
"I gained a lot of knowledge at the base hospital and I worked with patients in a lot of different surgeries," said Brace. "I generally only do wisdom teeth on the ship, but I learned how to assist in other types of oral surgeries in the hospital."
Brace is responsible for setting up equipment, making sure it works, breaking it down, getting rid of biohazard, and taking care of patient information.
"My favorite part of my job is taking care of the patient," said Brace. "I especially see the need for our Sailors aboard George Washington to be mission ready, and have a dental facility that gives them the care and attention they need."
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.