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Kirtland boasts top nurse in Air Force

Maj. Cindy Callisto, 377 Medical Group nurse practitioner, accepts the award for Top Air Force Nurse.

Maj. Cindy Callisto, 377 Medical Group nurse practitioner, accepts the award for Top Air Force Nurse from Tom McCaffery, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, at the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. Callisto was honored with others from Department of Defense services.

Maj. Cindy Callisto, 377 Medical Group nurse practitioner, was named the United States Air Force’s top nurse for 2017. Callisto credits her team for helping her persevere through an undermanned summer at Kirtland Air Force Base.

Maj. Cindy Callisto, 377 Medical Group nurse practitioner, was named the United States Air Force’s top nurse for 2017. Callisto credits her team for helping her persevere through an undermanned summer at Kirtland Air Force Base.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico -- Kirtland Air Force Base is now home to the Air Forces’s top nurse. 

Maj. Cindy Callisto, a nurse practitioner at the 377th Medical Group, was named the 2017 Top Nurse in the United States Air Force. She said she is proud of her award.

“It was shocking and amazing,” Callisto said. “I was cool with just winning for Air Force Global Strike Command, but then they told me I won at the Air Force level I was in shock.  I really enjoy my patients and my staff. I feel like I owe it to them to do my best.”

Callisto, who is originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, joined the Air Force in 2000. Callisto credits her team for helping her through an undermanned summer at Kirtland. The nurse staff was at 50 percent manning during one of the most critical times of the year.

“This team is incredible,” Callisto said. “I got really lucky when I inherited this team. We had a rough summer, but everyone just really helped each other out. We didn’t say ‘you can’t take time off because we’re short.’ We instead said, ‘what can you go do to recuperate?’ and that really helped us a lot."

Coming from a military background, Callisto’s father was very supportive. 

“He hadn’t worn a uniform in a while, being a retiree, so he drove down to Fort Belvoir [Virginia] from his Fairfax [Virginia] home to get a brand new one so he could attend the awards banquet in uniform with me,” Callisto said. “We were able to get the only picture of the two of us in uniform.”

Callisto doesn’t want to stop here though, as she has aspirations of leading other nurses in a clinic. 

“I would love to be a chief nurse,” Callisto said. “I love mentoring and teaching. I feel like it would be a better role for growing new nurses for the Air Force. I want to change the culture in the nursing field so we can retain more young Airmen.”