Hampton came upon her military career by chance. When she was in junior college, one conversation with Navy recruiters ended with Hampton wanting to join as soon as possible. In 1986, Hampton officially enlisted in the U.S. Navy, working in Information Warfare with the Office of Naval Intelligence. One of her fondest memories of serving was being stationed on the USS Frank Cable, where she travelled to Japan, Guam, and other places around the world. Living and working on a ship was a unique adventure Hampton says strengthened her character. She reminisces, “I find it one of the best learning experiences for me. I was much younger, and I think all of the lessons that I learned aboard ship hemorrhaged over to who I am today.”
When Hampton was 15 years into her service, she decided to take the required steps to become an officer. After earning her degree from the Hampton University School of Nursing, she was commissioned as an Ensign with the U.S. Navy Nurses Corps. Hampton then worked as the Clinic Manager on the Fifth Fleet stationed out of Bahrain. She recalls how that assignment reinforced her decision to work in healthcare and made her feel like she had truly become a nurse. In 2010 after 22 years of service, Hampton retired as a Lieutenant.
Following the end of her military career, Hampton delved even deeper into the nursing field. For Hampton, nursing was not simply a profession; it was her passion. She created a digital curriculum and started a workshop to help nurses with their certification exams. Hampton’s healthcare experiences helped her realize the importance of promoting health and nursing science to young nurses, as well as highlighting the need for diversity within the industry.
Hampton believes having a diverse network of nurses is crucial to being able to care for patients. “Nurses serve frontlines in all levels of healthcare. And when you talk about the society that we live in, demographics are changing dramatically,” she explains. “And so the role of the nurse scientist, because they are frontline healthcare providers, they are the first voice that most communities see. Having that role more diverse is going to help bridge all gaps, and not just health inequities. We’re talking about cultural competence, cultural literacy; all of that leads back to the nurse.”
Hampton later took her love of nursing into documentary filmmaking, although she did not set out to become a producer. After seeing a museum event on Facebook, she was compelled to create a film that would tell the story of 300 courageous black nurses in the 1940s. She released her first min-documentary, “Black Angels: A Nurse’s Story”, in 2018. It chronicles the untold story of African American nurses who treated tuberculosis patients during the mid-20th century when white nurses refused to do so and there was no cure for the disease. In 2019, Hampton founded her own film production company, For Nurses By Nurses Productions (FNBNP), in order to showcase African American nurses throughout history. Her most recent film, “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”, documents the contributions of African American nurses and midwives to the field of healthcare in honor of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. The film can be found on the FNBNP website.
Hampton resides in Suffolk, VA with her family. She continues to create content to educate and empower nurses.
NFM Salute is an initiative in which one military member or Veteran is chosen each month to be honored as the “Salute of the Month.” Salutes are chosen from nominations on the NFM Salute website, www.nfmsalute.com. The “Salute of the Month” will be featured on the website with a biography and information about his or her service, and NFM Lending will donate to a non-profit selected by the Salute in his or her name.
NFM Lending is proud to donate $2,500 to Virginia Peninsula Food Bank on behalf of Hampton. NFM looks forward to the opportunity to continue to honor military and Veterans through the NFM Salute initiative.
Full Transcript of Video Interview is Below:
– Welcome to 2021, 2020 finally behind us. And it’s time to kick off our NFM Salute series for the month of January, 2021. We welcome in 22 year Navy Veteran Denetra Hampton from Suffolk, Virginia. Denetra, thanks for being with us on NFMTV. Thank you for your service.
– Thank you for having me.
– We really appreciate it. We’re so glad to kick things off with you. You’ve got an extraordinary story. You’ve accomplished so much since retiring after 22 years in the Navy in 2010. You’re an accomplished filmmaker and a global health influencer, and also a nurse historian. Where do we begin?
– Well, you know, I started out enlisted. So I served about 15 years in the United States Navy. Then, as enlisted, but then I transitioned into the officer ranks and how I did that was I applied for the United States Naval Nurse Corps. And I went to nursing school and graduated from Hampton University School of Nursing. And on completion, I was commissioned and served my time up until 22 years and decided to retire, and retired as a Lieutenant in the United States Naval Nurse School.
– So accomplished. We’re gonna get into what you’re doing now in your civilian life, but let’s again start with your military life. What made you get into the military? When did you realize you wanted to serve?
– I was in college. I was at a junior college and I was walking through the dining hall and there were Navy recruiters sitting at a desk. And so I decided to walk up to the desk and ask what this was about, and ended up after completing a two-year degree, coming into the military. And so that’s how my military career started. It wasn’t anything fabulous. It was just the recruiters doing their job.
– What’s life like on a U.S. Navy ship?
– Well, you know, I had a multi-faceted career. Enlisted, I, you know, went all over the world but one of the best things I think as enlisted I served on ship aboard the USS Frank Cable. And they were stationed out of Guam but that took me to a number of places, including Japan. I find it one of the best learning experiences for me. I was, you know, much younger. And I think all of the lessons that I learned aboard ship hemorrhaged over to who I am today.
– Perfect segue into your civilian life as a global health influencer. You’ve made it sort of your life’s calling to do your part to increase the amount of African Americans in nursing roles and in nursing leadership roles. Tell us why you’re passionate about that.
– Well, you know, African-Americans make up about 13% of this entire profession, and even less in leadership roles. Nurses serve front lines in all levels of healthcare. They are the first voice that most communities see. Having that role more diverse is going to help bridge all gaps and not just help inequities. We’re talking about cultural competence, cultural literacy, all of that leads back to the nurse. They are key and helping bridge all of those gaps.
– Okay, makes great sense. Let’s talk about your journey as a film producer. You have produced two films. “The Black Angels” is one of them. And also the other film is “The Year of the Nurse And Midwife.” You have a film company. It’s For Nurses by Nurses Productions. What got you into the film industry and what are you trying to accomplish?
– Well, getting into the film industry, again, it wasn’t anything fabulous but I will say it was divine because that story, “The Black Angels” just crossed my path on a Facebook post. And I had never did anything like this before. And this story was back in the 1940s. Tuberculosis didn’t have a cure at that time. And it was a time where segregation was rampant. And in this particular hospital, Seaview Hospital, white nurses refused to take care of those patients, and walked off of the job. The legacy of the story speaks loudly about them having to recruit African-American nurses from all across the country. Because you have to remember African-Americans couldn’t even work in white facilities then. So you had these nurses who had degrees who couldn’t provide for themselves. And here they had this wonderful opportunity and the patients coined them The Black Angels because all they saw were black nurses.
– “The Black Angels” was released in 2018. More recently in 2020, you released your second film the “Year of the Nurse And Midwife.” Tell us what the inspiration was behind that.
– World Health Organization designated 2020 as year of the nurse and midwife. But this particular film, it does a cultural narrative. Not only do we celebrate our modern founder Florence Nightingale, but we also talk about the contributions of African-American nurses to nursing, to medicine, to research and to science. That’s what make this film so important because we’ve never been able to document all of the contributions of African-American nurses.
– Denetra Hampton, thank you for being our NFM salute, kicking off the 2021 Salute series in style. Can’t thank you enough and thank you again for your service.
– Thank you.
– We appreciate your time. That’s Denetra Hampton. I’m Greg Sher from NFM TV. We’ll see you next time.