SUNY Potsdam graduates experience the world and enrich their surroundings in ways only limited by the imagination. Last week we caught up with Natasha Brooks ’15 & ’17. Originally from the North Country, she is on the front lines of COVID-19 prevention for the U.S. Air Force in England, but she also does so much more — and travels Europe while she’s at it.
Brooks, who received a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and sociology, and a master’s degree in community health, fills us in, with her own words:
Can you tell us about your job?
My title is aerospace medical services technician, and I am a licensed EMT. I currently work in the Personnel Reliability and Assurance Program Clinic. This clinic sees patients performing duties associated with nuclear weapons and security forces personnel, and therefore has a high standard of care. I also provide medical coverage to in-flight emergencies and on-base sporting events, administer immunizations, and teach basic life support and CPR to medical personnel.
I ensure that the health of personnel is at the highest possible level and that they are well enough to complete their jobs, train, and deploy. I am very fortunate to have a job that allows me to care for patients, while simultaneously tying me directly to the mission.
Can you give us a sense of some of your adventures and experiences?
I am stationed at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in England. My training was absolutely incredible. Coming from no medical background I was extremely nervous, but fortunately for me, the course was designed to teach you everything that you need to know. Phase I is 16 weeks of learning anatomy and physiology, basic nursing, and becoming a nationally certified EMT. Phase II is actually working in the hospital, putting your skills to the test.
Since being stationed at Lakenheath, I have had the opportunity to travel to Malta, Gozo, Naples and Rome in Italy, Normandy and Caen in France, Madrid, Crete, Sweden, and Norway. Traveling the world and experiencing so many different cultures is a dream come true. I am so fortunate to be stationed overseas where traveling is so accessible and affordable.
How has coronavirus factored in your job?
I am still considered “essential” personnel and therefore am still working. The base has created a COVID-19 hotline to field questions regarding testing and new updates. We have also set up a drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic, and a clinic for anyone who needs treatment and has COVID-19 related symptoms. My clinic has participated in every aspect of these new processes. I have fielded COVID-19 questions, and both tested and treated patients showing COVID-19 symptoms. Additionally, I am the infection control monitor for my flight. In this role I educate my clinic on any alterations to “normal” patient care as a result of the pandemic.
Can you describe your experiences at SUNY Potsdam?
SUNY Potsdam shaped me in more ways than I could have imagined. Being able to learn from the community, professors, peers, coworkers, and students is priceless. SUNY Potsdam is an institution dedicated to being at the forefront of inclusion and advocacy. I have never been surrounded by so many accepting and progressive thinkers as I was while attending school there. I think that my education, as well as my experiences at Potsdam, has prepared me to better serve my clients and patients, as well as shaped the way I see and participate in the world.
Are there any particular experiences, professors or courses that stand out in your memory?
Dr. David Bugg and Dr. Nancy Lewis were two professors I would consider mentors. I am pretty sure I took every course that they both taught! I really enjoyed how thought-out and planned their courses were. Every assignment and lecture had a purpose and built on my knowledge or understanding. I also was a teaching assistant for two of Dr. Lewis’ courses.
As far as other experiences, I was very involved: I was service vice president of Gamma Sigma Sigma National Honor Society and had several different on campus jobs. I worked in the Veteran and Military Services Office, the Student Success Center, the Office of Graduate and Continuing Education, and I was the assistant camp director for summer camps, I tutored for two courses and was a graduate assistant in residence life. Working in so many different locations allows me to meet different people, make connections, and see the University from multiple different angles.
What is your next career goal?
My goal is to continue furthering my skills and certifications. In the next year I plan to attend training to enhance my knowledge of caring for Personnel Reliability Program and Arming and Use of Force members. I also plan to attend training to become a flight and operational medical technician providing patient care to active duty flyers. Long term, I plan to go back to school to obtain my Master of Social Work degree and commission as a clinical social worker.
Interview by Bret Yager