FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- National Nurses Week is May 6 to 12 and Blanchfield Army Community Hospital is celebrating the contributions of the hospital's nursing staff.

"More than 500 active duty, federal service and contract nurses from a variety of nursing specialties help to provide care to Blanchfield's military healthcare beneficiaries each day. I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to all our nurses who support so many of our Soldiers, retirees and family members," said Blanchfield's Commander, Col. Anthony McQueen. "They make a difference in the hospital each and every day and help us to be successful in our mission."

The hospital is named for Col. Florence Blanchfield, an Army Nurse Corps officer who played a prominent role in World War II by placing nursing teams close to the front lines to provide expert nursing care to battlefield casualties and was instrumental in attaining permanent commissioned officer status for military nurses. Blanchfield served as the Chief of the Army Nurse Corps from 1943 to 1947.

Today, nurses at Blanchfield work across the nursing spectrum from licensed practical nurses who complete about a year of specialized training to advanced degree nursing specialties like certified nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives and nurse practitioners.

Nurses at Blanchfield help to enable medical readiness of the Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division and help to treat service members, retirees and family members who receive care on post. In some cases, active duty nurses from Blanchfield deploy downrange serving with field hospitals, and medical evacuation units to support the Army.

"A nurse is a very integral part of the healthcare team. Generally a large number of [hospital] staff is made up of nurses. I see nursing as a mission. I love it and being a part of the Fort Campbell team gives me an opportunity to help ensure that our Soldiers are ready," said Blanchfield's Nurses Week coordinator, Pat Fuller, a registered nurse and nurse educator with 40 years of experience in the nursing field.

In celebration of Nurses Week, Fuller and her team scheduled a variety of activities to recognize and honor Blanchfield's nurses including lunch-hour guest speakers who provided discussions on advances in nursing, informational displays on the nursing profession throughout the hospital and clinics, a special breakfast, goody bags and t-shirts.

Blanchfield's most experienced nurse on staff, registered nurse Regina Partridge, graduated nursing school in 1973 and said she has seen many changes in nursing during her 45 year career.

"Probably the biggest change I've seen is computer charting and how big computers have become in our process of documenting everything for the patient," said Partridge, who also noted a big change in nursing attire. "When I first went to [civilian] nursing school I had to get up every morning and go to inspection. You had to make sure your uniform was ironed, your pantyhose were white and you had to make sure you didn't have any runs in them. You had to make sure your hair was off your collar and your hat was the way it was supposed to be."

Partridge said she had to wear that style nursing uniform for several years after nursing school before the culture changed and civilian nurses could dress more comfortably for their duties. "It's much more comfortable to work in scrubs and not have a skirt on, or a dress. And shoes -- there are much more comfortable shoes now," said Partridge, with a laugh.

As the mother of a Soldier, Partridge said it means a lot to her to work at Blanchfield, "It's a privilege to take care of Soldiers and their families."

In addition to the civilian nurses on staff, Blanchfield has military nurses from both the officer and enlisted ranks.

Nurse Corps Officers typically have a bachelor of science in nursing plus additional schooling if they work in a specialty field.

"I'm a certified nurse midwife," said Maj. Nicole Sampson, chief of midwifery at Blanchfield. "What that is, is a registered nurse who has gone on to get a master's degree specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. We are nurse practitioners specializing in OBGYN and we see normal healthy pregnant women and coordinate all aspects of the birthing process."

Enlisted nurses complete 52 weeks of advanced individual training at Fort Sam Houston.

"Nursing is a career I can take anywhere in the world, which is a big thing for me, and the diversity of it," said Staff Sgt. Jason Darling, non-commissioned officer in charge of the medical-surgical ward. "You can work in a clinic, the emergency room, trauma, a field hospital. You can work in the administrative side too. There is a lot of opportunity."

All totaled, the nursing staff at Blanchfield has a combined 7,675 years of nursing experience that they provide to their military healthcare beneficiaries.

"Nursing is the number one trusted profession in the United States. It has been for a number of years and I'm proud to be a part of that team and proud to be a part of Fort Campbell," said Fuller.

To learn more about nursing opportunities at Blanchfield visit www.usajobs.gov or www.goarmy.com