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Nursing Legend Ferguson Opens Nurses Week

Vernice Ferguson, former chief nurse for the Clinical Center, will return to NIH to be the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony for the Clinical Center's 2004 National Nurses Week celebration. Her presentation will take place at 10 a.m. in Lipsett Amphitheater on Thursday, May 6.

A fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, Ferguson also won its Living Legend designation in 1998. This honor recognizes the most stellar academy fellows as reminders of nursing's proud history and as role models for all nurses. Ferguson is the recipient of eight honorary doctorates and two fellowships, one in physics and one in alcohol studies.

For more than 20 years, Ferguson was a nurse executive in federal service. She served for 12 years as assistant chief medical director for nursing in the Veterans Administration and was responsible for more than 60,000 nursing personnel at 172 hospitals, 91 nursing homes and 220 outpatient clinics. She also served as chief nurse at two VA medical centers and as chief of the nursing department at the CC. She was the first chair of the Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs Foundation, which supports scholarships and research grants for VA nurses.

Ferguson was a senior fellow in the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, holding the Fagin family chair in cultural diversity from 1993 to 1996.

Ferguson came to the CC in 1973 and served as chief of nursing for more than 6 years, supervising 8 nursing services that included 28 nursing units and 5 clinics. She led the department through several phases of organizational change, including implementation of the Medical Information System in 1975. During her CC tenure she helped initiate the nursing department's annual program meeting and annual research review policy. She was also responsible for establishing the annual nursing awards program and staff retreats to define goals, long-range plans and modes of implementation for the department.

National Nurses Week is May 6-12. Throughout the week, research being conducted by NIH nurses will be highlighted. On Tuesday, May 11, inpatient care units and outpatient clinics will showcase their contributions to clinical research during a special program to be held in the 14th floor auditorium.

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