Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono to receive 2019 Mary Edwards Walker Inspiring Women in Surgery Award

Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono, MD, FACS
Raquel C. Bono, MD, FACS

The U.S. Navy has a longstanding motto: Not for self but country. For nearly 30 years Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono, MD, FACS, has served with honor and distinction and with
a selfless dedication to duty. She has distinguished herself as a highly respected Navy Officer and is the first woman surgeon to hold the rank of Vice Admiral. Through her leadership and dedication to duty, Dr. Bono exemplifies country over self every day. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the Women in Surgery Committee are honored to present the 2019 Dr. Mary Edwards Walker Inspiring Women Award to Vice Admiral Bono at Convocation Sunday night, 6:00−8:00 pm at Moscone Center West, Ballroom.

As the chief executive officer (CEO) and director, Defense Health Agency (DHA) Medical Corps, Vice Admiral Bono leads a joint, integrated combat support agency that enables all branches of the U.S. military—Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps—medical services to provide health care services to combat commands in times of both peace and war. Dr. Bono integrates an unprecedented $50 billion worldwide health care enterprise com-posed of 50 hospitals and 300 clinics that provide care to 9.5 million military personnel; oversees the Department of Defense deployment of the electronic health record; and advances the development of the largest federated health system, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

A board-certified trauma surgeon, Dr. Bono is an inspiration and a role model for all surgeons, especially women surgeons in the military.

“Throughout her distinguished career and in the multiple positions in which she has served, Dr. Bono has been committed to improving the care of the nation’s military beneficiaries in every way,” said 2018−2019 ACS President Ronald V. Maier, MD, FACS, FRCSEd(Hon), FCSHK(Hon), FCCS(Hon), in his presentation of the award. “She has brought her bona fides as a surgeon to bear on improving the systems of care of the wounded warrior, and most recently as director of the DHA on the military health care system as a whole.”

Dr. Bono received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, Austin; her Master of Business Administration from Washington State University, Spokane; her medical degree from Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, Lubbock. She completed her surgical internship and residency at the U.S. Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, VA; and performed a trauma and critical care fellowship at Eastern Virginia Graduate School of Medicine, Norfolk.

Dr. Bono’s leadership positions in the U.S. Navy are as follows: CEO/director, DHA (2015–present); CEO/director, National Capital Region Medical (2013–2015); acting commander, Joint Task Force, National Capital Region (2013); functional champion, MHS Genesis (EHR for VA and DoD) (2014–2015); command surgeon, U.S. Pacific Command (2011–2013); chief of staff, TRICARE, U.S. Department of Defense (2008–2010); commanding officer, Naval Hospital, Jacksonville, FL (2005–2008); executive assistant to the 35th Navy Surgeon General, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (2004–2005); director, medical-surgical services, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda (2003–2004); planning officer and chief of medical corps, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (2001–2002); director, restorative care, National Naval Medical Center (1999–2001); surgeon/surgeon intensivist, Naval Medical Center and Burn and Trauma Unit (1991–1999); and head of casualty receiving, Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm (1990–1991).

Dr. Bono launched the Military Health Corps’ Female Physicians Leadership Course to encourage diversity, retain women physicians, and give military women the skills they need to succeed in senior leadership roles. The course has become an annual standalone, three-day course since 2015, training more than 100 women military physicians annually. Dr. Bono has advised course attendees that “as a leader, you have to be willing to make change happen. Leadership should make you uncomfortable; it’s not for the weak of heart because it takes courage and skill.”

Dr. Bono was the keynote speaker at the Association of Women Surgeons 35th Annual Conference. Her speech, Leaning Forward: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom, left a lasting impression on multiple generations of women surgeons. She also presented a young surgical trainee with a champion coin—a military tradition. This spawned the creation of an Association of Women Surgeon’s Better Together champion coin that has been shared globally.

An ACS Fellow since 1991, Dr. Bono served on the ACS Board of Governors (2014−2016) and the Governors Health Policy and Advocacy Workgroup. She has been honored with three Defense Superior Service Medals, four Legion of Merit Medals, two Meritorious Service Medals, and two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals.

Other honors she has received include the following: Modern Healthcare’s 50 Most Influential Clinical Executive Leaders (2019), 50 Most Influential Healthcare Physician Executives and Leaders (2018), and 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare (2018); an Executive Mosaic Washington Top 100 Executives (2017, 2018, 2019); the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s Most Influential Women in HIT (Health Information Technology) (2018); University of Texas Distinguished Alumnus (2017); Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Presidential Distinguished Alumni Award (2015); and the first Asian-American woman promoted to Vice Admiral in the U.S. Navy.

The Navy motto, “a global force for good,” exemplifies Dr. Bono’s life and career. Her illustrious military career and dedication to our nation’s service men and women, combined with her demonstrated leadership skills, and focus on assisting women physicians in furthering their career, exemplify the spirit of the Mary Edwards Walker Inspiring Women Award.

Mary Edwards Walker

The Dr. Mary Edwards Walker Inspiring Women in Surgery Award is named for Mary Edwards Walker, MD, the first woman surgeon to be employed by the U.S. Army and the only woman in the 1855 graduating class of Syracuse Medical School. Dr. Walker is the only woman to have received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Her extensive commitment to the surgical profession has helped pave the way for the women surgeons of today.