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News | Feb. 6, 2024

Walter Reed celebrates 123rd birthday of Army Nurse Corps, DAISY Award winner

By Bernard Little

Past and current nurses, along with others, celebrated the 123rd birthday of the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) during a ceremony at Walter Reed on Feb. 2. The nursing team also recognized its most recent recipient of the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses at the celebration.

The ANC became a permanent corps of the Medical Department under the Army Reorganization Act passed by Congress on Feb. 2, 1901.

“The ANC continues to preserve the strength of our nation through compassionate care,” said Army 2nd Lt. Russell Ross, a medical surgical nurse at Walter Reed, who serves as the masters of ceremonies He added the mission of the ANC includes providing “responsive, innovative and evidence-based nursing care integrated on the Army Medicine Team to enhance readiness, preserve life and function, and promote health and wellness for all [in the Military Health System].”

This year’s ANC birthday theme is “Serving with distinction and healing with compassion.”

“[This theme] highlights the roles we serve as both nurses and Soldiers,” said Army Col. James Burk, ANC chief. Prior to assuming the position, Burk served as deputy director for nursing at Walter Reed from 2017 to 2018.

“As nurses, we answer the call to care for people, holding a patient’s hand during their first steps post-surgery, providing phlebotomy services during the early morning hours, and responding to a patient’s emergency. As Soldiers, we answer the call to serve this country, preparing to deploy on a moment’s notice to care for warriors serving in combat,” Burk said.
Walter Reed nurses also highlighted some of the accomplished Army nurses in the corps’ history, including Susie King Taylor, a former slave and the first African American nurse during the American Civil War; Brig. Gen. William T. Bester, the 21st ANC chief who was the first male officer to serve in the position; and Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock, the 22nd ANC chief who became the first woman and first non-physician to serve as the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army.

Army Col. Wendy Woodall, director for nursing services at Walter Reed, agreed that Army nurses “provide the absolute best care to America’s sons and daughters, with a hugely diverse and talented team.”

Retired Army Lt. Col. Cynthia Goldberg served as guest speaker at the program. She is credited with co-pioneering the role of the medical-surgical clinical nurse specialist during her service at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She did this with a focus on pain management, wound care and orthopedic trauma. She also served as the director of the first and largest Army and Navy Clinical Nurse Transition Program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from 2011 until 2022, leading the program to becoming the first military nurse residency program to obtain accreditation with distinction from the American Nurses Credentialing Center in 2019 and again in 2022.

“At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. With boiling water comes steam, and with steam you can power a train,” said Goldberg. “This is certainly a metaphor for how you can live your life, with an emphasis on going the extra mile. It moves someone from even good to great, and we have great nursing leaders at Walter Reed. I think about those times when I pushed myself a little further, and I found that it was worth it.”

Also noting its Black History Month, Goldberg recognized the care the famed Tuskegee Airman received from their nurses during World War II. She said the professional and personal struggles endured by those African American women while serving in uniform from 1942 to 1946, like the Tuskegee Airmen they cared for, “undoubtedly contributed to the Civil Rights Movement.”

“We stand on the shoulders of all of those nurses who have gone before us,” Goldberg added. “There are amazing nurses at Walter Reed, and they are the 212-degree leaders we have.”

Also at the program, Joan LoepkerDuncan, chief nurse officer in charge of Cardiology Service and coordinator for the DAISY Award program, joined Woodall in recognizing 2nd Lt. Jacob Fox with the DAISY Award.

LoepkerDuncan noted that a colleague of Fox nominated him for the award, stating, “Compassion, extraordinary, exceptional, committed, are all DAISY qualities highlighted in this nomination. This nurse has been taking care of cancer patients on our ward and has developed a great relationship with them. This nurse learned that one patient loved to read sci-fi books. On this nurse’s day off, he went to a bookstore and picked out a book he knew was good and came to the hospital and gave the patient the book. This made the patient so happy. [Fox] is a great nurse, provider, and exceptional saint who delivers compassionate care to all.
This is just one of the many examples I can share. This nurse deserves the DAISY Award multiple times over.”

DAISY stands for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. The family of J. Patrick Barnes established the DAISY Award program and foundation after his passing from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), an autoimmune disease, at a Seattle hospital in late 1999. They established the award and foundation as a way to thank all nurses in appreciation for those who provided “skillful and compassionate care” during Barnes’ eight-week hospitalization. The award is now presented to nurses around the globe.

In addition to receiving a certificate, Fox earned a serpentine stone sculpture, “The Healer’s Touch,” hand-carved by the Shona people in Zimbabwe. The Barnes family felt the sculpture symbolized the relationship between a nurse and his or her patient and referred to it as the Healer’s Touch when they established the DAISY Award program. In addition, the Shona people hold their traditional healers in very high esteem, viewing them as treasures in their community, which gives the Healer’s Touch sculpture even more significance, LoepkerDuncan shared.

Anyone can nominate a Walter Reed nurse for the DAISY Award. For more information, contact LoepkerDuncan at or at 301-319-4617.

The celebration concluded with the traditional cake-cutting by the most senior and junior nurses in attendance at the ceremony.
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