When Michaela Nicole Emert recently arrived one morning at Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit Everett, she was a hospital corpsman second class petty officer.

She departed that same day as a commissioned officer in the Navy’s Medical Service Corps.

For Emert, becoming a laboratory officer not only advances her chosen career specialty on an upward path, it also continues a legacy of military service in her family.

“My father was in the Army as a combat medic and my grandfather was in the Navy as a Seabee. With the desire to meld the two worlds, I signed up for the Navy as a hospital corpsman,” said Emert, from Ogden, Utah, and a 2012 graduate from Admiral Arthur W. Radford High School, Honolulu, Hawaii.

She also began her Navy career in 2012. “I knew from the start I wanted to be a hospital corpsman and wouldn’t settle for anything else,” added Emert.

I grew up living a nomadic lifestyle, moving around the Midwest,” continued Emert. “I loved it as a child. When my father joined the Army, we ended up moving to Hawaii. My mother told me when I enlisted that I would tell people around me I was always to join the military. Every generation of my family has had someone in the military. I wanted to be no different.”

That dedication lead her to be assigned as an advanced medical laboratory technician and the assistant lead petty officer of NMRTU Everett’s Primary Care department.

It was in the laboratory environment – critical in helping to identify cancers, diseases and afflictions through testing – where she found herself engrossed. Her interest originated at Navy Medicine Readiness Training Command San Diego and has further blossomed at her current duty station.

“Two different commands, but ones that allowed me to see different sides of both the Navy and being a laboratory technician. When I got selected for advanced laboratory technician, I was surprised but grew to love the profession and all it holds. So much so that after a few years in San Diego, I decided that I wanted to be a laboratory officer,” explained Emert.

Emert attests that the mentoring, teaching, and guidance she received as a young Sailor helped influence her goals, enhance her knowledge and attain not one, but two, bachelor’s degrees. She graduated from Thomas Edison State University in 2017 with her Bachelor of Science degree followed by achieving her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2021.

“I had wonderful naval officers that grew my interest in both the Navy and laboratory world. With this determination in mind, I pursued my degree while on night shift. When I made it to NMRTU Everett, I pursued my certification and applied for Medical Service Corps – In Service Procurement Program. My first attempt was unsuccessful. Undeterred I applied for the Direct Accession program through the Navy Recruiting Command. I was informed I had been professionally recommended by the board for advanced laboratory officer,” Emert said.

The submission process for any Navy advancement program places demands on any aspiring applicant. There’s a host of bureaucratic red-tape, which includes assessment, investigative and administrative needs. All of that on top of the normal work flow at NMRTU Everett which saw the Lab provide over 16,000 tests last year, handle a daily average of over 60 patients, and play a pivotal role in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“The most challenging aspect for me has been staying positive during the ups and downs of the whole process. From putting together the MSC packages to waiting for results and realizing that one day your will go from enlisted to officer with a blink can be a lot to handle, even when prepared,” stated Emert.

Along with the tribulations were encouragements.

“The most gratifying aspect has been to show Sailors around me that if you put in the work and have a solid plan for your future, that plan can be executed,” noted Emert. “Yes, hiccups do come around. But it’s worth taking a deep breath and seeing what the next step is to reevaluate and push forth.”

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Her maturation process has been both personal and professional. The lessons realized are there for those who are willing.

“I have learned to seek the advice of those around you. Putting together the packages, I spoke to more personnel than I normally would have. I sought the advice of Nurse Corps officers, an environmental health officer, physician assistants, physical therapists, independent duty corpsmen, and so many others,” shared Emert, advocating that others can – and should – make their career goals happen.

“My best advice is twofold. Know what you want and realize that there is usually more than one way to your end point, and never be afraid to ask or push for what you want because the worst thing you can do is tell yourself, “no,” before anyone else can,” Emert said.

The best part of Emert’s career has centered on taking her academic achievements and sharing with others.

“While in NMRTU Everett, not only was I able to obtain my Medical Laboratory Scientist certification but I also began instructing both civilians and active duty personnel on phlebotomy and laboratory procedures. Watching these personnel grow over the time they were in the lab was amazing and something I want to continue pursuing in my career,” said Emert.

When asked to sum up her experience in Navy Medicine with one sentence, Emert replied, “Everyone has the potential to grow and learn.”

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H/t: Douglas Stutz of the Naval Hospital Bremerton/Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Bremerton.