By Esther Garcia, AMEDDC&S Public Affairs OfficeFebruary 16, 2012
The heritage and history portrayed at the Army Medical Department Museum was the backdrop for a celebration of the 111th Anniversary of the Army Nurse Corps Feb 10.. Nurses from various medical specialties gathered at the museum to hear the keynote speaker, Col. Bruce Schoneboom, Corps Specific Branch Proponency Officer for the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.
On June 14, 1775, Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates reported to Commander-in-Chief George Washington that "the sick suffered much for want of good female Nurses."
Washington then asked Congress for "a matron to supervise the nurses, bedding, etc.," and for nurses "to attend the sick and obey the matron's orders."
In July 1775, a plan was submitted to the Second Continental Congress that provided one nurse for every ten patients and provided "that a matron be allotted to every hundred sick or wounded."
This set the stage for the Army Nurse Corps. It was established in 1901, founded on the premise that there needed to be an organized structure for military nurses, a requirement for the nation to be able to respond to the nation's wars and conflicts.
"The birth of the corps had its beginnings in 1898, when then Brig. Gen. George Miller Sturnberg established the Nurse Corps Division and appointed Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee as the acting Assistant Surgeon to the Army.
During her tenure Dr. McGee drafted the bill authorizing the formation of the Army Nurse Corps. The bill was passed by Congress on Feb. 2, 1901 as Section 19 of the Army Reorganization Act."
Sturnberg, the Surgeon General at the time, was responsible for the establishment of the Army Medical School and the organization of a contract dental service and for the Army Nurse Corps.
McGee was then Vice President of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and was placed in charge of selecting graduate members for the Army.
"Since that time, 111 years ago Army nursing has been moving and transforming itself to be relevant for the times and positioning itself to lead for the future," Schoneboom said.
Schoneboom spoke about the transformation the Army Nurse Corps has been undergoing for the past three and a half years under then Maj. Gen. Patricia Horoho through her campaign plan with four lines of efforts such as leader development, transform warrior care with efforts on the wounded and their families, human capital by a new a talent management strategy and evidence based practice to promote quality care in standardized approaches that are able to measure on a systems based approach.
"The Patient CaringTouch System is our new way in delivering nursing care," Schoneboom said.
Schoneboom touched on the accomplishments of the corps such as answering the call where there were gaps and capabilities such as the enroute critical care capability. He said teams were developed down range to be able to care and transport the critically ill and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"One of the things I've seen in change is in how we work as providers with the doctors," said Col. Margaret Dixon, deputy director, Department of Nursing Science at Dunlap Hall. "When I first started it was 'I am the doc, you are the nurse.' Now it is very much 'We are team players, especially in the military."
"I think the Surgeon General's vision of transforming Army Medicine from a health care system to a system of health that focuses on wellness and prevention, and now our 24th corps chief leading a command responsible for public health, I see Army nursing well positioned to lead as we focus on wellness and prevention," Schoneboom said.