JESSICA R. BRAWLEY, MD
Family Physician, Chesapeake Regional Primary Care-Greenbrier;
U.S. Navy (Officer Physician) and U.S. Army (Enlisted)
Practicing family medicine in the military gave Dr. Jessica Brawley a more varied experience in patient care than she ever would have had as a young doctor in the civilian world.
From living in Japan for three years to supporting a surgical team on a massive aircraft carrier, Dr. Brawley learned to think quickly on her feet, handle a wide range of health issues and stay organized, efficient and calm under pressure.
“You gain such unique perspectives from working in different environments,” she says. “You also receive very high-level medical training, including performing minor surgeries, delivering babies and doing hospital and ICU rotations. It’s all so valuable.”
Dr. Brawley, a family physician at Chesapeake Regional Primary Care-Greenbrier since 2020, enlisted in the Navy to pay for medical school and served seven years of active duty. She also spent two years in the Army before completing her undergraduate degree.
Born into a farming family in North Dakota, Dr. Brawley took what she describes as a “curvy path” into her current career. She started as a chemistry major at Missouri State University but opted to pause her studies and join the Army to gain life experience.
After two years at Fort Bliss in Texas, where Dr. Brawley did administrative work for a commanding officer and was promoted to Corporal, she returned to school and earned an accounting degree from the University of Houston. Her high grades emboldened her to revisit her childhood dream of becoming a doctor.
Dr. Brawley graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and did an internship and residency at Puget Sound Family Medicine in Bremerton, Wash., where she received the Resident Teacher of the Year Award at graduation.
Dr. Brawley was a Family Physician for the Iwakuni Naval Branch Medical Clinic in Japan for the next three years. She cared for military members and dependents from the newborn stage – beginning with routine prenatal care during pregnancy – through end-of-life.
Living on an American base with her then-teenage daughter, Dr. Brawley also handled overnight call, supervised Advance Practice Providers and junior physicians, and performed procedures such as vasectomies, colposcopies, IUD placements, laceration repairs and splinting.
“It’s a real hodgepodge of cases and responsibilities,” she notes. The Japanese people “were kind, humble and welcoming,” she adds. “We loved exploring their beautiful country.”
In 2013, Dr. Brawley began a 1½-year stint as Fleet Surgical Team Family Physician, including a three-month deployment on the Norfolk-based USS Kearsarge to the Middle East and Mediterranean.
On a team designed to enable surgical capabilities on ships, Dr. Brawley acted much like a hospitalist at sea: managing admitted patients, assisting with medical evacuations and helping with post-operative care. She also covered daily sick call and alternating overnight call.
Severe athlete’s foot was a common problem, she shares, as were psychiatric conditions linked to stress and distance from family. Many patients also needed basic care such as blood pressure and cholesterol management, gynecological exams and weight loss guidance.
In port, Dr. Brawley provided a full scope of urgent and primary care as a Staff Physician while also working part-time at the Boone Clinic in Virginia Beach.
Dr. Brawley retired from active duty in 2014 and had jobs with Sentara Medical Group and Patient First before taking her current position. Known as a warm, personable and skilled physician, she has earned patient experience scores of more than 95 percent.
Married with a now-adult daughter, Dr. Brawley enjoys horseback riding and – true to her love of travel – collecting art from other countries.
“The Navy allowed me to see so much of the world,” she says. “I’ll always be grateful that I could learn my profession as I served my country.”