Take-Charge Nurse

Spring 2021 As Seen in Our Spring 2021 Issue
Take-Charge Nurse

Master’s Entry/ROTC path makes Tanzania Guest a first—and she’s only just begun to lead

Written by Steve St. Angelo | Photo by Chris Hartlove

For the first Johns Hopkins master of nursing student ever to join the university’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, that meant squeezing the traditional four years’ worth of ROTC into the five semesters of the MSN (Entry into Nursing) Program. No sweat. All it required:

  • Start running and don’t stop—utilize early entrance, ROTC Basic Camp (a focused month of summer training in Fort Knox, KY), and various extra work to erase the two missed years and nurture Guest’s voice as a “strong yet empathetic” commander of troops.
  • Turn a night owl into a dawn worshiper, as in up at 5 a.m. for days that began at the School of Nursing and ended 15 hours later (and with a uniform change) in military history and leadership classes at the JHU Homewood Campus. “That first semester was brutal! By 8 p.m., I was dead tired.” (Still, mission accomplished.)

At the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Guest quickly earned her stripes as the glue between various organizations including the Black Student Nurses Association; as a mentor and an example to fellow students; and as the go-to in every situation—from creating graphics for event fliers and launching her Fall 2019 cohort’s Facebook page (now about 300 members strong) down to becoming a founder of the first nurse anesthesia Interest group at the School of Nursing.

“I’m definitely an initiator,” she explains. “You know there’s always someone in every group who thinks, ‘Somebody else will do that.’” Guess who: “In every class, the teacher knows my hand will be up, asking questions that somebody else in the room might not be ready to ask, so we all learn together.”

This empathy is a key to both worlds Guest marches in. It allows her to lead troops because she’s been in their boots and be a great teammate on any nursing team. And the extra leadership training through ROTC only adds to that built into any Johns Hopkins Nursing education.

Guest has embraced the rigor of ROTC training as eagerly as that of her clinicals and nursing classes, acing all of it. (She credits an abbreviated, previous stint in medical school as a true boot camp in how to study.) And now she’s ready to launch. Following her graduation, she will have cleared the final hurdle to earn her commission and take the Oath of Office to be a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps (the first military officer in her family). Guest will then take the N-CLEX and initiate her career with six months of training at a U.S. Army hospital in San Antonio, TX.

As a reservist, Guest, who is from San Diego, CA, owes the Army one weekend a month (and two weeks each year for eight years, though she plans to extend that). Currently, she is part of D/Company, 203 Military Intelligence unit at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, shadowing officers as she completes her education in leading a company or platoon. Guest also teaches and mentors new ROTC recruits back at Hopkins. (The Johns Hopkins ROTC does field training at Aberdeen as well as Gunpowder Military Reserve.)

Meanwhile, her JHSON synthesis practicum placement is at a trauma ICU at University of Maryland Medical Center. Oh, and she’s got a job as a student nurse at another cardiac ICU.

I’m gaining more confidence in myself and my nursing skills,” Guest says. “I feel so grateful … and I’m ready.”

No matter the workload, Guest is thrilled to be doing hands-on nursing after COVID safety forced limited hours of actual practice. “I’m gaining more confidence in myself and my nursing skills,” she says. “I feel so grateful … and I’m ready.”

It wasn’t the easy path, but Guest says she wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other driven students who might otherwise struggle to make a nursing education work. And she has no plans to stop running, continuing on her path toward, she hopes, a doctor of nursing practice degree and a career as a certified registered nurse anesthetist.

“People say, ‘Tanzania, you’ve been in school your whole life. Don’t you want a break? Don’t you want to start a family?’ And I tell them, ‘I’ve got plans!’”

[Read more from the We Are All East Baltimore series.]

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