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On a Mission: Nursing student becomes first to achieve rank of Air Force Major while at UW SoN


Date: June 18, 2013
Media Contact: Ashley Wiggin,, 206-221-2456

Michelle Hufstetler knows what it means to serve others.

The graduating Community Health Nursing (CHN) Master’s student has been a nurse in the Air Force for more than 11 years, where she served in Germany and Iraq in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as in Texas and Japan, where she worked as a pediatric nurse. This February, Hufstetler was promoted to Major in the Air Force, becoming the first UW SoN Student to achieve that rank.

“Nursing chose me,” she said.

As a high school senior in Idaho, Hufstetler had been flirting with the idea of joining the military, inspired by her friend who had plans for the Naval Academy.  Her high-school counselor encouraged her to consider nursing as well as the military, and she soon found herself with an opportunity to serve the military as well as pursuing nursing as an ROTC student.

Michelle H. PromotionMichelle H. PromotionHufstetler attended Hawaii Pacific University to complete her BSN on an ROTC scholarship, graduating and commissioning in 2001. Shortly after graduation, she traveled to San Antonio, Texas, where she cultivated a love of pediatrics and worked as a pediatric nurse for several years. Hufstetler worked at Lackland Air Force Base and the island of Okinawa, Japan, before she decided to pursue further education. The Community Health Nursing program at UW caught her eye for its classroom-based learning approach, and she started classes in fall 2011.

“I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunities I have had,” she said. “I think it’s important that I be the best I can be because I’ve been given such wonderful opportunities.”

Michelle H promotionMichelle H promotionHufstetler notes that in the past, her focus was usually on the individual receiving care. Through the course of this program, she was able to focus more broadly on environments and populations, and she quickly developed an interest in studying and understanding populations as a whole and how these relate to health outcomes.

“The program prepared me for the role I will have [as a Health Care Integrator] after graduation—I feel that I am ready to take on the world with my newfound knowledge,” she said. “I’m truly blown away by how much I’ve learned while at the UW SoN—the program has given me a well-rounded base of knowledge.”

Hufstetler already has a new position lined up after graduation—as a Health Care Integrator for the Air Force in Rapid City, South Dakota. Hufstetler will be utilizing the knowledge gained from the CHN program to ensure optimal healthcare delivery for our nation’s Airmen and to promote a healthy military population and community.

She notes that the support she received from SoN Faculty at her promotion ceremony in February was incredibly meaningful, and looks forward to continuing a strong relationship with the school. This June, Hufstetler was also honored with the school’s Master’s Degree student award, given at the school’s graduation ceremony on June 14th. She was praised for her stellar work at First Place School in Seattle where she studied the gap between nutrition provided in the home and at school. Her committee chair, June Strickland, also noted her great potential for advancement in the field of community health nursing.

The UW School of Nursing is as proud to have Hufstetler as a graduate as she is of her own achievements.

“I’ve worked hard in my career to achieve the successes I have had, and I am proud to be part of UW during the time of my promotion,” she said.


The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently a top-rated nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 2 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2011, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service. For more information, visit