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The First Nurse Surgeon General

Nov 15, 2013 | Nursing News | 0 comments

Meet Lieutenant General Patricia D. Horoho RN, the 43rd Surgeon General of the United States, the head of the medical department of the U.S. Army.  She is the first nurse and female in this position in the 236 years of  the office of this post.

She was sworn in to office December 07, 2011.  This position includes a promotion to a three-star general.  As Army surgeon general, she will direct the third-largest healthcare system in the United States, behind the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Hospital Corporation of America.  She commands a world-wide staff of 140,000, operating in 29 executive agencies and 480 facilities.

Her role also extends beyond the Army, to national and international mileus, including collaboration and partnership with other public and private entities on research, standards of practice and national healthcare leadership in areas including brain injury, concussive disorders, mental health promotion and pain management.

What Does the Surgeon General Do

The Surgeon General of the United States Army is the senior-most office of the U.S. Army Medical Department.  The Surgeon General serves as Commanding General, U.S. Army Command as well as the head of the U.S. Army Medical Department.  The office is located in Falls Church, Virginia.  Duties of the Surgeon General include providing advice and assistance on all health care matters pertaining to the U.S. Army and its military health care system.  This includes development, policy direction, organization and overall management of the entire Army-wide health service system.

History of the Office of the Surgeon General

The Medical Service of the Continental Army was established by Congress on July 27, 1775.  It included a Chief physician and Director General.  However, physicians assigned to the U.S. Army were not given a military rank until 1847.  Before the appointment of Lt. General Horoho, all the previous Surgeon Generals were male and physicians.

Historical Points for Nursing in the Office of the Surgeon General

August 29, 1898:   Dr. Anita Newcomb became the first woman to hold the office of acting assistant surgeon, Department of the Army.  She organized the Army Nurse Corps and served as their superintendent, in the Surgeon Generals Office.

March – December 2007:   Major General Gale Pollock served as activing Army surgeon general, temporarily filling the post after Lt. General Kevin Kiley was relieved as a result of aging facilities at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Lt. General Patricia Horoho is the first nurse and first woman to be nominated for the position of Surgeon General and confirmed by Congress.

Lt. General Patricia Horoho RN

Lieutenant General Horoho earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982.  She received her Master of Science degree as a Clinical Trauma Nurse Specialist from the University of Pittsburgh.  She earned a second Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy from the Army’s Command and General Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

She has commanded the Army Nurse Corps since 2008.  At that time, she was promoted from colonel to major general.

Her previous nursing positions include:

  • Staff Nurse on a multi-service specialty ward
  • Staff and Head Nurse of a Level III emergency department at Evans Army Community Hospital, Fort Carson, Colorado
  • Nurse Counselor, 1st Recruiting Brigade [Northeast] with duty at Harrisburg and Pittsburgh Recruiting Battalions
  • Head Nurse of a 22-bed emergency department at Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
  • Chief Nurse and Hospital Commander of a 500-bed field hospital 249th General Hospital, Fort Gordon, Georgia
  • Assistant Branch Chief, Army Nurse Corps Branch, united States Total Army Personnel Command, Alexandria, Virginia
  • Assistant Deputy for Healthcare Management Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army [Manpower and Reserve Affairs], Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
  • Deputy Commander for Nursing and Commander of the DeWitt HealthCare network, Fort Belvoir, Virginia
  • Deputy Commander for Nursing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center
  • 1998: deployment to Haiti with the Amry’s first Health Facility Assessment Team
  • 1998: co-author a chapter on training field hospitals, publiched by the U.S. Army Reserve Command Surgeon
  • 2011 deployment with I Corps as the Special Assistant to the Commander, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, Kabul Afghanistan

Recognitions and Decorations include:

  •  1993: State of North Carolina as one of “The Great 100” nurses in the State of North Carolina
  • 1993:  Fort Bragg Supervisor of the Year
  • 2001:  Honored by Time Life Publications for her actions at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001
  • 2002:  Honored by the American Red Cross and Nursing Spectrum to receive national recognition as a “Nurse Hero”
  • 2009:  USO’s “Woman of the Year”
  • 2013:  Society of Trauma Nurses Leadership Award
  • Distinguished Service Medal
  • Legion of Merit
  • Bronze Star
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Army Commendation Medal
  • Army Achievement Medal
  • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  • Afghanistan Campaign Medal
  • Order of Military Medical Merit Medallion

Ponder Points

When you think of Nursing Leadership – what nurse, current or historically, comes to your mind.  Why?

When you think of Nursing Leadership – what kinds of available positions come to mind?

When you think of Nursing Leadership – what kinds of positions would you like to see nursing participate in – that don’t exist at this time?

Nurses are leaders! They are breaking ceilings and going where they have never been before! Where do you want to go and be the first?

When you think of Nursing Leadership – where do you see yourself?

Print Out this ACTION SHEET so you can write your answers down:

July 2013:  Leadership:  Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho

For More Information

ARTICLE: Lieutenant General Patricia D. Horoho RN: The Surgeon General and Commanding General of the United States Army Medical Command

ARTICLE: Who is Lt. General Patricia D. Horoho RN?

ARTICLE: New Army Surgeon General Is First Woman, Nurse to Hold That Position

ARTICLE: Horoho takes oath as first nurse, female surgeon general

ARTICLE: The Surgeon Generals of the U.S. Army and Their Predecessors

AMEDD Medical Museum

VIDEO LIBRARY: DVIDS: Lt. General Patricia Horoho

FACEBOOK: Lt. General Patricia Horoho

TWITTER: Lt. General Patricia Horoho


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