United States Army Nurse Corps

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United States Army Nurse Corps
USA - Army Medical Nurse.png
Army Nurse Corps
branch insignia
Active 1901 – present day
Country United States
Branch United States Army
Motto Embrace the past – Engage the present – Envision the future

The United States Army Nurse Corps (AN or ANC) was formally established by the U.S. Congress in 1901. It is one of the six medical special branches (or "corps") of officers which – along with medical enlisted soldiers – comprise the Army Medical Department (AMEDD).

The ANC is the nursing service for the U.S. Army and provides highly qualified nursing staff in support of the Department of Defense medical plans. This ANC is composed entirely of registered nurses (RNs).


All actions and tasks must lead and work toward promoting the wellness of Warriors and their families, supporting the delivery of Warrior and family healthcare, and all those entrusted to our care and ultimately, positioning the Army Nurse Corps as a force multiplier for the future of military medicine.


World War II Army Nurse Corps recruiting poster

I am a member of the Army Nursing Team

My patients depend on me and trust me to provide compassionate and proficient care always.
I nurture the most helpless and vulnerable and offer courage and hope to those in despair.
I protect the dignity of every individual put in my charge.

I tend to the physical and psychological wounds of our Warriors and support the health, safety, and welfare of every retired Veteran.
I am an advocate for family members who support and sustain their Soldier during times of War.
It is a privilege to care for each of these individuals and I will always strive to be attentive and respectful of their needs and honor their uniquely divine human spirit.

We are the Army Nursing Team

We honor our professional practice standards and live the Soldier values.
We believe strength and resiliency in difficult times is the cornerstone of Army Nursing.
We embrace the diversity of our team and implicitly understand that we must maintain a unified, authentically positive culture and support each other's physical, social, and environmental well-being.
We have a collective responsibility to mentor and foster the professional growth of our newest Team members so they may mentor those who follow.

We remember those nursing professionals who came before us and honor their legacy, determination, and sacrifice.
We are fundamentally committed to provide exceptional care to past, present, and future generations who bravely defend and protect our Nation.

The Army Nursing Team: Courage to Care, Courage to Connect, Courage to Change
— LTC Leigh McGraw [1]


AR 135-100, AR 135-101, AR 601-100, and applicable Army Nurse Corps circulars in the DA Circular 601-FY-X series list qualifications for entry.

The U.S. Army Nurse Corps (AN) consists entirely of commissioned officers. Nurses who wish to serve as an Army Nurse are required to hold an unrestricted Registered Nurse (RN) license prior to receiving a commission. For the Active Army and the Reserve Component, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is required. The degree conferring school must furthermore be National League for Nursing (NLN) accredited in order for a nurse to be eligible for commissioning.


As of 2012, the Chief of the Army Nurse Corps is Major General Jimmie O. Keenan.[2]

Specialties – Army Occupation Code (AOC)

Public Health Nurse – 66B

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse – 66C

Peri-Operative Nurse – 66E

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – 66F

Obstetrics-Gynecological Nurse – 66G

Medical-Surgical Nursing – 66H

Generalist Nurse – 66N; this is used to designate positions on organizational documents but is not held by the individual.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) – 66P

Additional skill identifiers (ASI); these designate additional areas of expertise or experience and are in addition to a basic nursing specialty.

7T – Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
8A – Critical Care Nurse (ASI to be deleted and converted to the AOC 66S)
8D – Nurse Midwife (Only used in conjunction with AOC 66G)
M5 – Emergency Nurse (ASI to be deleted and converted to the AOC 66T)
M8 – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (Only used in conjunction with AOC 66C)
M9 – Nurse Case Manager
N1 – Aviation Medicine Nurse Practitioner (Only used in conjunction with AOC 66P)


  • The Army Nurse Corps became a permanent corps of the Medical Department under the Army Reorganization Act (31 STat. 753) passed by Congress on 2 February 1901.[3]


An Army Department circular order established the designation of Nurse

During the American Civil War, the United States Sanitary Commission, a federal civilian agency, handled most of the medical and nursing care of the Union armies, together with necessary acquisition and transportation of medical supplies. Dorothea Dix, serving as the Commission's Superintendent, was able to convince the medical corps of the value of women working in their hospitals. A famous figure was Clara Barton, whose Civil War nursing efforts had earned her the names "Angel of the Battlefield" or the "American Nightingale." In 1882, Barton helped found and served as the first president of the American Chapters of the International Red Cross.

During the 1898 Spanish–American War, the Army hired female civilian nurses to help with the wounded. Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee was put in charge of selecting contract nurses to work as civilians with the U.S. Army. In all, more than 1,500 women nurses worked as contract nurses during that 1898 conflict.


Professionalization was a dominant theme during the Progressive Era, because it valued expertise and hierarchy over ad-hoc volunteering in the name of civic duty. Congress consequently established the Army Nurse Corps in 1901 and the Navy Nurse Corps in 1908.[4] The Red Cross became a quasi-official federal agency in 1905 and took upon itself primary responsibility for recruiting and assigning nurses.

File:US Army Nurses Uniform 1917.jpg
1917 Army Nurse Corps Uniform Coat

World War I

In World War I (1917–18) the military recruited 20,000 registered nurses (all women) for military and navy duty in 58 military hospitals; they helped staff 47 ambulance companies that operated on the Western Front. More than 10,000 served overseas, while 5,400 nurses enrolled in the Army's new School of Nursing. Key decisions were made by Jane Delano, director of the Red Cross Nursing Service, Mary Adelaide Nutting, president of the American Federation of Nurses, and Annie Goodrich, dean of the Army School of Nursing.[5]

Interwar period

Demobilization reduced the two corps to skeleton units designed to be expanded should a new war take place. Eligibility at this time included being female, white, unmarried, volunteer, and a graduate from a civilian nursing school.

In 1920, Army Nurse Corps personnel received officer-equivalent ranks and wore Army rank insignia on their uniforms. However, they did not receive equivalent pay and were not considered part of the US Army.

Flikke remained in the Army after the war. After 12 years at Walter Reed Army hospital in Washington, D.C., she was promoted to captain and became the Assistant Superintendent of Nurses. She succeeded in creating new billets for occupational therapists and dieticians. Flikke became Superintendent, with the rank of Major, in 1938.

World War II

WWII Army Nurse veteran of the Battle of the Bulge

At the start of the war in December 1941, there were fewer than 1000 nurses in the Army Nurse Corps[6] and 700 in the Navy Nurse Corps. All were women.[7]

Colonel Flikke's small headquarters in 1942, though it contained only 4 officers and 25 civilians, supervised the vast wartime expansion of nurses, in cooperation with the Red Cross. She only took unmarried women age 22–30 who had their RN training from civilian schools. They enlisted for the war plus six months, and were discharged if they married or became pregnant.

Due to the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the United States entered the Pacific part of World War II. Along with this military effort was the work of the Flying Tigers in Kunming, China, under Claire Chennault. Nurses were thus needed in China to serve the U.S. Army. These nurses were recruited among the Chinese nurses residing in China, particularly the English-speaking nurses that fled Hong Kong (a British colony) to free China due to the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong on 8 December 1941. The Hong Kong nurses were trained by the Department of Medical Services (directed by Dr. Percy Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke) of the Government of Hong Kong. They took up Nursing positions at the Flying Tigers (Rebecca Chan Chung 鍾陳可慰, Daisy Pui-Ying Chan 陳培英), U.S. Army (Rebecca Chan Chung 鍾陳可慰, Daisy Chan 陳培英, Cynthia Chan 陳靜渝), Chinese Red Cross (Elsie Chin Yuen Seetoo, Irene Yu 余秀芬) and China National Aviation Corporation (Rebecca Chan Chung 鍾陳可慰, Irene Yu 余秀芬).[8][9][10][11] Cynthia Chan 陳靜渝 is the elder sister of Anna Chan 陳香梅 (Mrs. Chennault).

On 26 February 1944 Congress passed a bill that granted Army and Navy Nurses actual military rank, approved for the duration of the war plus 6 months.

With over 8 million soldiers and airmen, the needs were more than double those of World War I. Hundreds of new military hospitals were constructed for the expected flow of casualties. Fearing a massive wave of combat casualties once Japan was invaded in late 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called on Congress early in 1945 for permission to draft nurses. However, with the rapid collapse of Germany early in 1945, and the limitation of the war in the Pacific to a few islands, the draft was not needed and was never enacted.

Archbishop James Duhig meeting with United States Army nurses ca. 1944 at St Stephen's Cathedral.

By the end of the war, the Army and Army Air Forces (AAF) had 54,000 nurses and the Navy 11,000—all women. Some 217 black nurses served in all-black Army medical units. The AAF was virtually autonomous by 1942, and likewise its Nurse Corps. Much larger numbers of enlisted men served as medics. These men were in effect practical nurses who handled routine care under the direction of nurse officers. Likewise many enlisted Wacs and Wafs served in military hospitals. Medical advances greatly increased survival rates for the wounded: 96% of the 670,000 wounded soldiers and sailors who made it to a field hospital staffed by nurses and doctors survived their injuries. Amputations were seldom necessary to combat gangrene. Penicillin and sulfa drugs proved highly successful in this regard. Nurses were deeply involved with post-operative recovery procedures, air evacuation, and new techniques in psychiatry and anesthesia.

Upon Flikke's retirement in 1943, she was succeeded by Florence A. Blanchfield, who successfully promoted new laws in 1947, that established the Army, Navy and Air Force Nurse Corps on a permanent basis, giving the nurses regular commissions on exactly the same terms as male officers. A month before she retired in 1947, Blanchfield became the first women to hold a regular Army commission.

Prisoners of war

Army POWs headed home
Army nurses in the Philippines liberated after three years as POWs


During the Korean War, Army nurses would once again treat the wounded. Nurses would staff MASH units and standard emplaced hospitals in Japan and Korea. Nurses were on the forefront of battlefield medicine during the conflict, playing a major role in the treatment of the wounded U.N. forces within mere minutes or hours of the wounds being inflicted.


The Army Nurse Corps stopped being all-female in 1955; that year Edward L.T. Lyon was the first man to receive a commission in the Army Nurse Corps.[12] During the Vietnam War many Army nurses would see deployment to South East Asia. Army nurses would staff all major Army hospitals in the theatre, including: Cam Ranh Bay, Da Nang, and Saigon. Vietnam would be the first major deployment of men as nurses into the combat theater, as men could be located in more hazardous locations than what was considered safe for females. Many Army nurses faced enemy fire for the first time due to the unconventional nature of the conflict, and several nurses would die from direct enemy fire. On at least one occasion the US Army hospital at Cam Ranh Bay was assaulted and severely damaged, with a loss of both patient and staff life.


Army Nurses are deployed all over the world, participating in humanitarian missions, and supporting the Global War on Terror.

Modern Nurse Corps

The Nurse Corps continues as a significant part of the Army medical department. Most training is conducted at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Insignia and badges

Nurse Corps branch of service insignia

The Nurse Corps has a distinctive insignia, a gold color metal caduceus, bearing an 'N' in black enamel.

Superintendents and Directors

From its founding in 1908 until after World War II in 1947, the Army Nurse Corps was led by a superintendent. Its nurses had no permanent commissioned rank. The Army-Navy Nurses Act took effect on 16 April 1947, establishing the Army Nurse Corps as a staff corps, with officers holding permanent commissioned rank from second lieutenant to lieutenant colonel. The corps was to be led by a director holding the rank of colonel while in that position.

List of Superintendents of the Army Nurse Corps[3]

      • Dita H. Kinney   (March 1901   –   July 1909)
      • Jane A. Delano   (August 1909   –   March 1912)
      • Isabel McIsaac   (April 1912   –   September 1914)
      • Dora E. Thompson   (September 1914   –   December 1919)
      • MAJ Julia C. Stimson   (December 1919   –   May 1937)
      • MAJ Julia O. Flikke   (June 1937   –   March 1942)
      • COL Julia O. Flikke   (March 1942   –   June 1943)
      • COL Florence A. Blanchfield   (July 1943   –   September 1947)

List of Chiefs of the Army Nurse Corps[2][3]

      • COL Mary G. Phillips   (October 1947   –   September 1951)
      • COL Ruby F. Bryant   (October 1951   –   September 1955)
      • COL Inez Haynes   (October 1955   –   August 1959)
      • COL Margaret Harper   (October 1959   –   August 1963)
      • COL Mildred Irene Clark   (September 1963   –   August 1967)
      • COL Anna Mae V. Hays   (September 1967   –   June 1970)
      • BG Anna Mae V. Hays   (June 1970   –   August 1971)
      • BG Lillian Dunlap   (September 1971   –   August 1975)
      • BG Madelyn N. Parks   (September 1975   –   August 1979)
      • BG Hazel W. Johnson   (September 1979   –   August 1982)
      • BG Connie L. Slewitzke   (September 1983   –   August 1987)
      • BG Clara L. Adams-Ender   (September 1987   –   August 1991)
      • BG Nancy R. Adams   (November 1991   –   December 1995)
      • BG Bettye H. Simmons   (December 1995   –   January 2000)
      • BG William T. Bester   (May 2000   –   June 2004)
      • MG Gale S. Pollock   (July 2004   –   July 2008)
      • MG Patricia D. Horoho   (July 2008   –   December 2011)
      • MG Jimmie O. Keenan   (January 2012   –   November 2015)

Army Nurse Corps officers

See also


  1. "Army Nursing Team Creed" (PDF). Army Nurse Corps. Retrieved 23 April 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Office of Medical History - Superintendents and Chiefs of the Army Nurse Corps". History.amedd.army.mil. Retrieved 23 November 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Carolyn M. Feller, Debora R. Cox, ed. (2000). Highlights in the history of the Army nurse corps. CMH Pub 85-1 (Revised and Expanded ed.). Washington, DC: United States Army Center of Military History. p. 103.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Highlights in the History of Military Women". Women In Military Service For America Memorial. Archived from the original on 22 June 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Jennifer Casavant Telford, "The American Nursing Shortage during World War I: The Debate over the Use of Nurses' Aids," Canadian Bulletin of Medical History (2010) 27#1 pp 85–99.
  6. "The Army Nurse Corps". History.army.mil. Retrieved 23 November 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. See "Army: She-Soldiers", Time 12 January 1942
  8. Fabien Levy (17 January 2012). "Congresswoman Hochul Presents Posthumous Honorable Discharge To Daughter Of World War II Veteran | Congresswoman Kathy Hochul". Hochul.house.gov. Retrieved 9 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Rebecca Chan Chung, Deborah Chung and Cecilia Ng Wong, "Piloted to Serve", 2012
  10. "The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project - University Archives - University Libraries". Library.uncg.edu. Retrieved 9 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "CNAC Flight Stewadress Rebecca Chan". Cnac.org. Retrieved 9 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. O'Lynn, Chad E.; Tranbarger, Russell E., eds. (2006). Men in Nursing: History, Challenges, and Opportunities. New York: Springer Publishing. p. 88. ISBN 9780826103499. Retrieved 22 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Campbell, D'Ann. Women at War with American: Private Lives in a Patriotic Era. (Harvard University Press, 1984).
  • Campbell, D'Ann . "Servicewomen of World War II," Armed Forces and Society (Win 1990) 16: 251–270.
  • Flikke, Julia. Nurses in action (1943) 239 pages
  • Gillett, Mary C. (1981), The Army Medical Department, 1775–1818, Washington, DC: United States Army Center of Military History, United States Army. (Series: Army Historical Series)
  • Gillett, Mary C. (1987), The Army Medical Department, 1818–1865, Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army. (Series: Army Historical Series)
  • Gillett, Mary C. (1995), The Army Medical Department, 1865–1917, Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army. (Series: Army Historical Series)
  • Gillett, Mary C. (2009), The Army Medical Department, 1917–1941, Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army. (Series: Army Historical Series)
  • Center of Military History, The Army Nurse Corps, Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army.
  • Monahan, Evelyn and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee. And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II. (Knopf, 2003)
  • Norman, Elizabeth. We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese. (Random House, 1999).
  • Sarnecky, Mary T. A History of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps (U of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), the standard scholarly history
  • Threat, Charissa J. Nursing Civil Rights: Gender and Race in the Army Nurse Corps (University of Illinois Press, 2015). xii, 198 pp.
  • Tomblin, Barbara Brooks. G.I. Nightingales: The Army Nurse Corps in World War II (2004) 272 pages excerpt and text search
  • Vuic, Kara D. Officer, Nurse, Woman: The Army Nurse Corps in the Vietnam War (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009)

External links

Contemporary unit

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army.