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Army’s Chief Nurse Discusses Priorities at WRNMMC

By Kalila Fleming
WRNMMC Public Affairs Staff Writer

The Army’s top nurse stressed readiness and professional development during a meeting with nurses at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Jan. 13.

Maj. Gen. Barbara Holcomb became the 25th Army Nurse Corps chief Nov. 2, 2015. She also serves as commanding general, Medical Research Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, Maryland. During the Nurse’s Call at WRNMMC in January, Holcomb outlined her priorities for the ANC, with readiness, both individual and professional, being at the top of the list.
“When called to action, we must ensure we have the knowledge, clinical skills and capabilities to respond at a moment’s notice anywhere, under any condition. Safe, quality, compassionate care of our patients is essential. Patients are why we are here,” the ANC chief has stated concerning readiness.
In regards to professional development, Holcomb said, “Train someone to do your job and delegate those other tasks to your subordinates so it’s not new to them when they move up.
“Within the [ANC], we recognize the need to ensure that leaders at all levels receive the developmental support necessary to enable them to realize their full potential. Professional growth; opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and abilities; creating the right conditions to help achieve goals and meet expectations; and conducting regular basic counseling, teaching, and mentoring are how we will grow the next generation of leaders,” she recently stated.
Other topics the general discussed included growth of ambulatory nursing skills and a focus on civilian nursing personnel.
Navy Capt. Valerie Morrison, WRNMMC’s director of nursing services, said Walter Reed Bethesda “is fully in alignment” with Holcomb’s priorities.
“Within the nursing arena, we work as a team. We must not only ensure that our new nurses are prepared and clinically competent to deploy, but also to train our hospital corpsmen, medics, and technicians critical skills they need when forward deployed,” Morrison said concerning readiness.
“As leaders, we should always be working ourselves out of a job,” Morrison explained regarding professional development. “WRNMMC has established mechanisms to assist with leadership development, from our Leadership Academy to the LEAD 2.0 program, which offer forums on topics such as conflict resolution and teamwork,” Morrison added.
Holcomb said expanding the role nurses play in primary care and ambulatory services enhance access to care and improve quality, safety and the patient care experience. Morrison agreed, adding “Exposure and training in the ambulatory care area is a valuable asset and includes patient education and the management of transitions of care.”
Holcomb and Morrison also agreed on the value of civilian nurses. The nursing leaders explained civilian nurses help provide continuity of operations, corporate knowledge, and clinical expertise. While military nurses move to different locations throughout their careers, civilian nurses generally remain at facilities longer, providing that continuity, corporate knowledge and experience.  
“"I had the privilege of helping prepare for [Holcomb's] visit to WRNMMC and also tasked as her escort during her walkthrough of the hospital. She provided us with a wealth of information regarding the future of the ANC and the way forward now that all branches will become a larger Defense Health Agency,” said Army Capt. Ghariwayne Fornillos, a clinical nurse specialist at Walter Reed Bethesda.
“I was personally interested in the Nurse Corps’ research efforts and the move for more primary care assignments for our junior officers,” Fornillos added. “I was glad that [this] was on the ANC chief’s agenda, as I believe that these areas will help groom our nurses to be well-rounded leaders and clinicians in the future,” the captain said.