Alumnae Spotlight: Andrea Brunhart Donalty ’89

Andrea Brunhart Donalty Class of 1989

Alumnae Spotlight:  Andrea Brunhart Donalty, Class of 1989 

A high school apprenticeship at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) sparked Capt. Andrea Donalty’s interest in a career in military medicine. “Working as a laboratory technician, assisting an Army psychiatrist, Army cardiologist, and a civilian exercise physiologist with their research projects was my introduction to military medicine. I was later drawn to the Navy for the diversity of opportunities that exist on land, on the sea, and in the air. The Navy seemed to have it all!”

She thus began her career in the Navy in 1989 as a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) midshipman on scholarship for college. She subsequently continued her medical studies under the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) and then started her active duty service at Naval Hospital Portsmouth, completing her residency in pediatrics.

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Tell us about your job/role.

Some of the highlights through my career included tours as Department Head of Pediatrics at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, which is the largest overseas pediatric department, as well as a tour in Naples, Italy. Being able to experience overseas living brought opportunities and experiences that my family and I would otherwise not have had. We were able to benefit from travel and experience the rich cultures and heritage in the countries which we visited. Learning about the medical education and practice of our host nation countries enhanced my own practice and interactions with patients and their families.

Typically throughout our military service, we have three year assignments and then we move to a new position and new location. I just completed my three-year tenure as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and staff pediatrician at Naval Hospital Bremerton/Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Bremerton in Bremerton, Washington. My role as CMO was to oversee patient safety, quality of care, and promote high reliability tenets. I was also the prime mentor for all the medical corps officers (physicians) at the command. Additionally, I saw pediatric patients in the outpatient clinic and cared for newborns in the labor and delivery unit. This assignment was the culmination of my 24-year Navy career. As of the new year, I will be officially retired from the Navy and will start a new job as Medical Director for Primary Care at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, WA.

What path did you take to get where you are?

I was always interested in the sciences. From the youngest age on, I thought I would follow in the footsteps of my grandmother, mother, and aunt and become a nurse. My parents always had medical books around, and health topics were common dinner table conversations in our family. However, it wasn't until my undergraduate years that I thought more seriously about becoming a physician. While I loved many of my rotations while a medical student, I really found "my people" in pediatrics. Pediatricians have a unique opportunity to help shape the health habits of children and their families and can have a lot of fun in the office with their young patients! Some of my favorite visits are with chatty 3-5 year olds. Their perspective on life is always interesting! In regard to the leadership aspects of my jobs, my years at Holy Child made me more confident in the skills I had started to develop in grade school. The rigorous academics combined with the extracurricular activities in which I participated built a strong leadership foundation. And there’s nothing like having had a pandemic in your final years of service in the Medical Corps to hone your risk communication skills and crisis management!

What is something about your career/position that you're proud of?

I am most proud of my work when it helps others succeed. I enjoy supporting and mentoring new physicians and students. I love seeing families have wins, like having a sick child getting better or turning a difficult situation around.

What’s one adjective that describes you that’s been a positive attribute for your role?


Is there a class that should be offered in high school or college that you think every student should take/would benefit from taking it?

Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability and compassionate listening would be of benefit to high school or college level students. Her motto “Stay awkward, brave, and kind” describes something the world could use a little more.


Name three things you would like to do in the next 5-10 years.

  1. My husband and I are working on developing our sons into responsible and resilient young adults.
  2. Bring together the pediatric community in my next job under common goals
  3. Bring joy to those around me


What is your favorite Holy Child memory? Does one teacher or class stand out to you?

Sister Connie stands out for someone committed to the faith-filled education of young women. Mrs. Cholis' English classes stand out as having been challenging but I credit her with having left me with the ability to write well. Lastly, Dr. Pauley's chemistry and physics classes remain forever in my memory as having been difficult, but her standards were high so that we would be successful. Her commitment not only to us but to her daughter, Cecilia, remains etched in my memory. A funny memory of both classes was constantly getting out late from chemistry class and invariably having English right behind it which you better believe started on time. We'd come dashing in, barely making it (sometimes legitimately late), and in our rush, sometimes still wearing our chemistry goggles due to a hasty exit because getting chastised for tardiness was the last thing we wanted.

What event or tradition each school year did you enjoy the most?

I enjoyed Spirit Week because it brought classes together more closely in enthusiastic competition.

Are you still in touch with your classmates?

Some via FaceBook but I will generally have an in person visit with Anne Auger Biggins when I am in Maryland.

What advice do you have for a Holy Child student or alumna who is pursuing her career/dream?

Challenge yourself, believe in yourself, and be true to yourself and to your values. Be realistic but allow yourself to be vulnerable.

Andrea received her undergraduate degree in Biology from The George Washington University in 1993 and graduated from The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences with her Doctor of Medicine in 1997. She lives in Gig Harbor, WA with her husband Sean and their four boys.

Written by:  Suzi Norris Montes de Oca ‘74


Do you know of a Holy Child alumna with an interesting career, service project, or hobby that we should spotlight? Send suggestions to!