Lucilie Petry Leone, now Associate Dean of the School of Nursing, Texas Women's University, was the first woman to be named to the post of Chief Nurse Officer of the United States Public Health Service. Appointed in 1949, she was the first woman in the nation to hold rank equivalent of Rear Admiral in the Navy. Always she demonstrated great interest in improving the standards of nursing practice and nursing education in this country, and indeed, in the world. Mrs. Leone was named nurse advisor to the US delegation to the First Assembly of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland in 1948. She served again in this capacity to the Ninth Assembly in 1956.
During her tenure she was influential in establishing the Surgeon General's Consultant Group on Nursing in 1 96 1 , which developed the classic report Toward Quality in Nursing: Needs and Goals, which has had profound impact on nursing and health care. As outgrowth of one of the major recommendations, the National Commission to Study Nursing and Nursing Education was established.
Her position as Chief Nurse Officer carried with it the responsibility of guiding the work of 2500 nurses in the United States Public Health Service. Prior to becoming Chief Nurse Officer, Mrs. Leone (who had entered the Public Health Service in 1941) served as Director of the Division of Nursing for two years, and later, as Director of the United States Cadet Corps, through which thousands of students were recruited and trained in nursing.
Mrs. Leone received her baccalaureate degree from the University of Delaware; her diploma in nursing from the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing; and her masters degree from Columbia University. Honorary doctorates have been conferred upon her by the University of Syracuse, Adelphi University, Wagner College, University of Delaware, Boston University, Keuka College, Hood College, and Alfred University. She is also the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal of the Public Health Service; the American Legion Auxiliary Award; the University of Minnesota Award to an Outstanding Former Faculty Member; Teachers1 College Medal, Columbia University; and the Florence Nightingale Medal of the International Committee of the Red Cross. During her tenure with the Public Health Service, the Lasker Award was given to the USPHS Nursing Service. Mrs. Leone served two terms as president of the National League for Nursing from 1959-1963. In recognition of her distinguished leadership in nursing in the United States and abroad, the nurses of Public Health Service established a Lucilie Petry Leone Award to encourage young leadership. The award has been made to outstanding nurse teachers with no more than five years of teaching experience in a nationally accredited school of nursing. Under an agreement with the nurses of the Public Health Service, the award has been administered by the National League for Nursing. Mrs. Leone has also served as a national officer of Sigma Thêta Tau.
In a recent telephone interview, Mrs. Leone commented on continuing education in nursing as being essential to the future of nursing. She saw the primary challenge as the preparation of the practitioner for extended roles and new careers in the interim - until such content becomes an integral part of graduate programs.