October 3, 1908, Bowman joined the newly-established U.S. Navy Nurse Corps as one of its first twenty members (the "Sacred Twenty").
Promoted to Chief Nurse in 1911.
Chief Nurse Bowman temporarily left the Navy in October 1914 and spent the next several months as a Red Cross nurse caring for war casualties in Great Britain. As the supervising nurse of Unit D, she served at Royal Naval Hospital in Haslar, England for six months.
Returned to the Navy in May 1915.
- In 1916 she arrived in Guam to conduct a two year course with three other nurses in modern midwifery and practical nursing at the Navy Nurse's training school for the local women. She also chaired the Department of Physiology and Hygiene at the normal school.
Bowman was appointed Chief Nurse at the Naval Hospital in Great Lakes, Illinois and guided its nursing staff during that facility's great expansion to meet the needs of war and the 1918-19 influenza epidemic.
Served as chief nurse at Fort Lyon, Colorado, a Navy tuberculosis sanitarium for sailors and marines.
In 1919, Chief Nurse Bowman led the first contingent of Navy Nurses assigned to the hospital ship USS Relief (AH-1), the first Navy women to serve at sea.
- She became Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps and held that position for over twelve years, until her retirement at the beginning of 1935.