Missouri State University
Josh Lawler

Josh Lawler

From the Army Nurse Corps to graduate school

A small stone started a rockslide into a career of nursing.

Josh Lawler, a BSN to DNP student, was interested in studying criminal justice until he joined the Army Reserve in 2005 as a 91W Combat Medic.

When Lawler’s recruiter presented him with three job options – combat medic, truck driver or water sanitation specialist. Lawler chose the healthcare route. This was the small stone that started a rockslide into his nursing career.

Finding his true passion

Lawler’s interest in criminal justice was still there and he was encouraged that he could one day be a forensic nurse. But, after years of working in many nursing positions, he found his true passion was in critical and emergency care.

In 2010, Lawler completed his BSN and received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps. He began working on the medical-surgical floor at Brooke Army Medical Central in San Antonio and has since been on active duty for the Army.

"This is the magic of nursing - you can change and explore to your heart's content."

Returning to school

Lawler is now “sponsored” by the Army to complete his graduate degree and become a Family Nurse Practitioner for the Army.

“I appreciate how challenging the BSN-DNP program is, but I was looking for a challenge when I asked the Army to send me to graduate school. Always look for what is difficult, and if you are able, do that thing. It allows you to see who you are, who you can be and prepare you for where you need to go,” Lawler said.

Lawler enjoys learning about his peers’ current roles in nursing. “We all followed different paths and came into the same phase of life.”  

Current adventures

Lawler’s current life adventures are shared with his wife, three children and two dogs. He is excited and eager to provide primary care and build relationships with patients. He is confident that he will return to the emergency room one day, “this is the magic of nursing – you can change and explore to your heart’s content.”

Lawler is currently studying the philosophy of Stoicism and is amazed at how its principles are on the art and practice of nursing. He quotes the Stoic philosopher, Seneca, “silence is the lesson learned from the many sufferings of life.”

As a witness to suffering, “my silence is the medium needed for the patient to guide me toward their affliction, problem or challenge. The patient will tell you what is wrong, you just need to listen,” Lawler said.