By Andrea Maneri
“I always knew I wanted to serve my country,” said Dianne Wamsley, a retired United States Navy commander. “While there are so many options in nursing, during the time I was at Adelphi, I decided that the Navy was the best fit for me.”
In December 1984, after completing her bachelor’s at Adelphi’s School of Nursing, she entered Officer Indoctrination School in Newport, Rhode Island. “This had nothing to do with nursing. I was being taught to be a military officer,” she said. “I spent the next six and a half weeks training…to be a naval officer.”
During that training, she studied naval history and naval law, and was taught different survival and damage skills. “It was very structured…I didn’t have time to think about nursing. It was fun and it was so different than anything I had done before,” she said. “When I completed my training, however, I wanted to get back to nursing badly.” After completing Officer Indoctrination School, she was sent to California. “I reported to San Diego and was assigned to an open bay ward with nearly 40 patients and just two corpsmen to assist me,” said Commander Wamsley, whose first assignment was orthopedics, plastic surgery and urology. “After six months, I was rewarded to work in the ICU, which is where I wanted to be.”
It was also in the ICU that she met her husband, Brian Wamsley. Today an anesthesiologist, Dr. Wamsley was at that time a Navy flight surgeon, doing his rotation in the ICU. When she was reassigned to the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Dr. Wamsley traveled back to the East Coast with her, fulfilling his residency in anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. By the time she finished her assignment at Bethesda, the couple was ready to get out of the Navy and marry. But that all changed when Operation Desert Storm began.
“My husband and I came back to the West Coast. We both thought we were going to be deployed to Kuwait or Iraq so we did a quick wedding,” she said. “We were married and both stayed on active duty until 1993.”A career in the Navy opened new opportunities for her during the next 18 years that she dedicated to reserve and active duty. She particularly enjoyed her role as clinical educator at the Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD). “I had wonderful hours, and had the opportunity to teach a whole array of classes,” said Commander Wamsley, who later took a position in ophthalmology at the NMCSD. Raising two young sons at the time, she savored the flexibility that these positions afforded her.
After a fulfilling career—she completed 27 years of active and reserve duty—Commander Wamsley retired from the Navy in March 2011. Today her husband is an anesthesiologist at Balboa Anesthesia Group, which provides services for the Navy and coverage for the Naval Medical Center San Diego, where Commander Wamsley continues to work today. In their free time, the Wamsleys and their two sons enjoy skiing, and return home to Long Island to spend their summers.