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Getting Real: Nursing Today

White House Nurses Serve the First Family

The front of the White House in summer
President Obama and the first family need healthcare, just like the rest of us. Have you ever wondered who helps provide that care for the president? Meet the White House Medical Unit.

President Obama and the first family need healthcare, just like the rest of us. Have you ever wondered who helps provide that care for the president? Since the Civil War, the military nurses who care for the first and second families are members of the White House Medical Unit (WHMU). The WHMU is comprised of a team of 20-30 active duty physicians, medics and registered nurses. They are responsible for the medical needs of the White House staff and visitors, such as foreign dignitaries.

According to The New York Times, the White House medical office is only steps away from the Oval Office. Members of the WHMU travel with the president everywhere, to guarantee he or she is never far away from care. They will plan for emergencies in whatever location the president is traveling, plotting out access to a Level One Trauma Care Center, in case of an emergency.

In order to serve on the WHMU, military healthcare workers are chosen through their branch of service. The head of the unit, chosen by the president, is called the “Physician in Chief.” Nurses typically serve a two-year term. In order to become a member, nurses must have a background in emergency and trauma care.

To learn more about what it is like to have this unique nursing career, we interviewed army nurse Cpt. Betty Moore about her experience as a nurse in the White House. Moore decided to join the military because she wanted to do what she loved – nursing – while serving her country. She knew her military nursing career would lead to work on the frontlines of battle, but she wasn’t expecting to also be the nurse to the president. Although a lot of her experiences as a WHMU nurse are classified, she was able to share a little bit about the high-stakes, fast-paced world of providing care for the Commander-in-Chief.

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