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Walter Reed Bethesda Nurses Salute Senior Members


By Bernard S. Little

WRNMMC Command Communications​

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center nurses recognized their senior members during a ceremony May 9 as part of National Nurses’ Week activities at WRNMMC.

Navy Capt. Valerie Morrison, WRNMMC’s director of nursing services, said the celebration of nurses should probably be longer than a week, “maybe a year, because we do so much as part of our [profession].”

Morrison added that she’s been “blessed” to serve as chief nurse at WRNMMC for the last two years. “A day didn’t go by that I wasn’t astounded by your talents,” she said to her WRNMMC nursing team. “This group has such caring and compassionate competence that it makes me flow over with happiness. I know that our patients get the best of the best of the best of care. Thank you for all that you do because you are outstanding, you are excellent, and I appreciate everything that you do every day.”

Calling WRNMMC senior nurses “the cornerstone” of the care provided at WRNMMC, Morrison said the medical center “cannot be here without [them]. Our facility is 60 percent civilian and contract staff and 40 percent military. She added for many of those military nurses who are new to the nursing profession, WRNMMC is their first assignment. [They] have less than three years of experience and are brand new in their specialty care areas. [Our senior nurses] are the cornerstone bringing that foundation and experience to help train us and prepare us [for when] we have to deploy, and they maintain this organization no matter what happens.”

Air Force Col. Barbara A. Cain, chief nurse of the 11th Medical Group, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, served as guest speaker at the ceremony. She stated that when the Gallup organization released the 2017 results of their poll for the most honest and ethical professions late last year, for the 16th consecutive year nurses topped the list. More than eight out of 10 Americans describe nurse ethics as "very high" or "high."

Throughout the early 21st century, nurses have earned top ranking in the annual Gallup poll on ethics and honesty – with the exception for 2001 when firefighters, following their response to the terror attacks of 9/11, earned that distinction.

“One of the amazing skills that most nurses have is that ability to build that rapport [with patients and their families]. We have that innate ability to provide compassionate care. We are our patients’ advocates. We confront barriers to achieve [theirs and our] goals. We comfort patients [and] talk to them about uncomfortable subjects. We feed and bathe them. We care for all patients. Patients warm to us.” She added many nurses’ response to the “amazing, incredible, life-saving” things they do daily is, “I was just doing my job.”

Cain said the art and practice of nursing comes with a huge responsibility. She encouraged nurses to “practice ethically, stay competent in their practice, integrate evidence-based research in their practice, communicate effectively, demonstrate leadership, provide quality nursing care, and practice with integrity.”

Morrison and Cain recognized more than 20 of WRNMMC’s senior nurses at the ceremony, who in total have worked approximately 700 years in the nursing profession. Loretta Aiken and Francine Bryant have each practice the art of nursing for nearly 50 years.

Closing the ceremony, Army Chaplain (Maj.) Chul Jeon prayed, “May the Lord’s hand be with you as your hands bring comfort and healing to those you touch. May the Lord’s face shine upon you as your face is the first face all patients see. May the Lord’s feet guide you in your daily walks of life. And may the Lord’s heart provide you compassion for all those who need your compassion and care.”​