Posted on May 10, 2018

Being Ready is Top Priority for Navy Nursing, says Rear Admiral

Being Ready is Top Priority for Navy Nursing, says Rear Admiral

Faculty and staff at the USF Health College of Nursing learned about the worldwide network of Navy nursing during a distinguished lecture series celebrating Navy Week and National Nurses Week.

U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Rebecca McCormick-Boyle, who is the highest ranking nurse in the Navy and the commander of Navy Medicine Education and Training Command, gave an overview of Navy medicine in an hour-long presentation featuring videos and slides showing how America’s Navy protects and defends on a global level.

Navy Week is the annual outreach initiative through which members of the U.S. Navy hold events in select cities to teach residents about the Navy, its people and its importance to national security and prosperity.

McCormick-Boyle pointed out that Navy medicine is a $6.2 billion global network with 63,000 people worldwide. There are about 3,000 active nurses and about 1,000 reserve nurses.

McCormick-Boyle said it’s hard to reconcile two seemingly opposing directives — preparing for war, while praying for peace and the nursing pledge’s promise to promote the health and happiness of mankind.

In February, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis told lawmakers he needs “to make the military more lethal,” when justifying $716 billion in defense spending.

“It’s difficult to have that conversation with the nursing population,” she said. “The world is not always a pretty place, so how do you translate that for the nursing realm? It’s hard to describe I want to be more lethal in my caregiving abilities.”

She said fulfilling their mission of keeping the members of the Navy and Marine Corps and their families healthy and on the job is a tremendous responsibility that comes down to nursing readiness. 

“We have to be as ready as we can be,” she said. “I have to have my basic skills honed. I have to be a good maternal health nurse, have exceptional medical-surgical nursing abilities, understand public health, and exceptional critical care nursing. I have to have the whole gamut of nursing, and be able to take those skills everywhere.”

During her two-day visit, McCormick-Boyle also toured USF’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS), one of the world’s largest, free-standing simulation facilities dedicated to training health care professionals.

McCormick-Boyle’s 37-year career in the Navy began after she graduated from nursing school at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1981.

She said she wanted to pursue a nursing career after spending time helping to care for her mother’s Uncle Michael.

“It was a special time for me. I had the ability to care for another person as his life wound down. From that experience, I decided I would go to nursing school,” said McCormick-Boyle.

After being commissioned in 1981, she worked as a surgical and critical care nurse at the Naval Hospital Orlando.

A few years later, she transferred to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and served as a coronary care nurse before returning to Buffalo in 1987 to be a medical programs recruiter.

In 1991, she reported to Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan, as division officer for in-patient and ambulatory care. While in Okinawa, she completed her Master of Science in Human Resource Management Systems from Chapman University. She earned a Master of Health Administration from Baylor University in 1996.

McCormick-Boyle served at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune from 1996 to 1999 and in 1999, she reported to the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), the headquarters command for Navy medicine. In April 2014, she became director of the Navy Nurse Corps and later that year, transferred to Joint Base San Antonio, Texas where she serves as commander of Navy Medicine Education, Training and Logistics Command.

McCormick-Boyle said serving in the Navy for nearly four decades has been a fulfilling and honorable job.

“I wouldn’t say the Navy is for everyone. But for me, I wouldn’t be anywhere else,” she said. “I always tell people, I pursued what I wanted to do.”

Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing