Story by William Love on 05/18/2018CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi celebrated the 110th birthday of the Navy Nurse Corps with a cake cutting and a special ceremony known as the Blessing of the Hands May 11.
The Navy Nurse Corps birthday is observed along with National Nurses Week, which is recognized annually May 6-12.
Nurses' week began with a message from Capt. Kimberly A. Taylor, NHC Corpus Christi senior nurse executive, about the impact nurses have.
"This week we celebrate and honor the positive impact that nurses have on patients and health care delivery," said Capt. Kimberly Taylor, also interim executive officer. "I want to thank each one of you for choosing to be a part of this amazing profession! In all capacities and in every venue, you continue to remain dedicated to uphold the highest level of quality care. I look forward to seeing all that you will do this year to inspire, innovate, and influence!"
Currently, 16 Navy nurses and 25 civilian nurses care for patients at NHC Corpus Christi and its Naval Branch Health Clinics (NBHC) located in Kingsville and Fort Worth, Texas, and the Command's detachment in San Antonio.
Throughout the week, nurses participated in various team-building activities, including a breakfast and luncheon.
During Thursday morning colors, a special company of nurses formed, and two nurse color guards hoisted the flag.
Serving as a color guard was a new experience for Lt. Brittany R. Garza, family nurse practitioner (FNP) from Port Lavaca, Texas.
"I was a bit nervous standing at the flagpole in front of the entire command because we don't normally get an opportunity to do this," said Garza, who cares for patients in Medical Home Port, her first Navy assignment.
On the quarterdeck the following day, staff read birthday letters, and the command's most senior nurse, Taylor, and most junior nurse present, Garza, cut the birthday cake.
For the finale of the week-long observance, nurses participated in the blessing.
Although the ritual is observed by the Navy nurses, anyone can have their hands prayed over during the ceremony as a way to confirm all NHC Corpus Christi staff members support the healing of every patient.
This year's National Nurses Week theme was Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence.
One nurse at NHC Corpus Christi says she owes her vocation to the influence of Nurse Corps officers.
"I enlisted into the U.S. Navy in 1999 and started off my naval career as a hospital corpsman. It was during that time caring for wounded warriors that I knew I wanted to become a Navy Nurse Corps officer," said Lt. Natalie Ann Claypool, from Glenford, Ohio. "I was so impressed by the blend of leadership and compassion I witnessed in Nurse Corps officers that I knew I wanted to be part of their corps."
In 2005, Claypool was selected for the Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program (MECP) to pursue her nursing degree. Three years later, she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from San Diego State University. She now serves as department head, Healthcare Business.
Today, over 4,000 active duty and Reserve Navy nurses representing more than 17 different specialties serve with both the Navy and the Marine Corps throughout the world, providing exemplary care to Sailors, Marines and their families, from the garrison to the deck plates and to the battlefield.
According to Navy Medicine, approximately 200 new nurses access into the Navy Nurse Corps annually, and Claypool offers good advice for Sailors and Marines interested in becoming nurses.
"Maintain strong academics, especially in the sciences. Be of exemplary moral character, and excel in your primary job while getting involved with your command," said Claypool. "Find a good Nurse Corps officer to be your mentor. Lastly, be sure to have multiple people scrutinize your commissioning package for accuracy. If you don't get selected for a commission on your first attempt, keep applying, don't give up, and work hard. Being a Nurse Corps officer is one of the most rewarding opportunities one may have in their lifetime."