Army Expected to Name First Women as Surgeon General

by U.S. Medicine

November 10, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Army is expected to name its first female and first U.S. Army Nurse Corps Officer as the Army surgeon general in December.

Maj. Gen. (P) Patricia Horoho, RN, was confirmed by the Senate to serve as the 43rd Army surgeon general and commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Command. She replaces the retiring Army surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker.

Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock, RN, had served as acting Army surgeon general in 2007 when then-Army Surgeon Gen. Kevin Kiley, MD, stepped down in the wake of problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.

Horoho is serving as the Army deputy surgeon general and 23 rd chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

According to her Army biography, Horoho graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science degree. She received her Master of Science degree as a Clinical Trauma Nurse Specialist from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a resident graduate of the Army’s Command and General Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, where she earned a second Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy. 

On Dec. 3, 2001, Horoho was honored by Time Life Publications for her actions on September 11, 2001, at the Pentagon. Other awards include being chosen by the American Red Cross and Nursing Spectrum as one of 15 nurses to receive national recognition as a “Nurse Hero,” on Sept. 14, 2002. In 2007, she was honored as a University of Pittsburgh Legacy Laureate. In April 2009, she was selected as the USO’s “Woman of the Year,” and in May 2009, she became an affiliate faculty with Pacific Lutheran University School of Nursing, Tacoma, Washington.

With pressures on the budget and future reductions in the force, Schoomaker told U.S. Medicine that the new Army surgeon general and other Army leaders will face the challenges of how best to continue to maintain the readiness of the medical elements of the force and to strike the right balance between the deployable force and the institutional Army.

“We think of healthcare within DoD medicine as falling into that care given by uniformed providers and civilians within our facilities, our hospitals, clinics and medical centers, and that which is given by managed support care contractors,” he said. “We have relied very heavily on having a robust direct-care system, as a means to not only care for our soldiers, their families, retirees, but also as a daily line-of-fire exercises for anybody who is going to deploy. About 15% of all deployed physicians and administrators and nurses in the Army come directly out of our hospitals and our clinics. That is a key and essential feature of keeping the skills necessary for the battlefield, and I think that she is going to have a challenge, just as every Army leader does in striking the right balance.”

Schoomaker also said that another continuing challenge will be that the medical services will be under continued pressure to find, “ways of both improving health for the communities and outcomes of care at the same time that we reduce the overall cost associated with that.”

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