UNC alum makes history

Army Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho has made history as the first nurse and first woman to become surgeon general of the Army.

She was part of another piece of history in 1982, her senior year at UNC-Chapel Hill. She recounts the thrill of being at UNC during Michael Jordan’s freshman year and watching the basketball team win the National Championship.

However, her time at UNC wasn’t all fun and games. She also remembers the excitement of starting her first IV and taking care of her first patient while at the UNC School of Nursing.

“The professors in the UNC School of Nursing and general studies instilled a strong appreciation for incorporating the theoretical basic skills and principles of being a nurse and the desire to continue on a path of lifelong learning,” she says. “UNC instructors and professors encouraged students to ask questions, use critical thinking skills, and to apply research and sound theories to decision making.”

They also taught her that nurses can influence health care delivery and influence the lives of patients in all environments through direct and indirect care, policy, legislation and the business aspects of health care.

“Opportunity for us to be real drivers of change”

With fiscal restraints, a country that has been supporting a war on two fronts, and great strides in technology, Horoho sees many opportunities to improve health care delivery as she takes on her role as the Army’s 43rd Army surgeon general. “The cost of health care has risen so high, and I think this brings an opportunity for us to be real drivers of change,” she says.

Her new duties and responsibilities cover all facets of Army medicine, including overseeing U.S. Army Medical Command, the third largest health care system in the U.S. She also directs the Army’s medical and health care professional education, scientific research, medical material logistics and training of all combat medics.

At the end of November Horoho visited Chapel Hill to receive the Alumna of the Year award from the School of Nursing. She also spoke with students and attended a basketball game.

“UNC is an outstanding academic institution that has established name recognition for its cutting-edge health care training and research, and for growing leaders who are focused on improving our world,” Horoho says. “So much talent has walked the halls of this prestigious university, and to join the list of past award recipients is a recognition that I cherish.”

Watch a video of Horoho’s swearing in as the Army’s 43rd surgeon general.