Skip to Content


M. D. Anderson Honors Outstanding Nurse

M. D. Anderson Honors Outstanding Nurse
Ethel Fleming Arceneaux Award bestowed upon Linda Woodward
M. D. Anderson News Release 07/19/04

The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has selected Linda Woodward to receive the 2004 Ethel Fleming Arceneaux Outstanding Nurse Oncologist Award, the institution’s most prestigious award for nursing.

Woodward is a wound, ostomy and continence nurse (WOC), trained to treat or manage skin, urinary tract and digestive tract problems that often develop for various reasons related to cancer and its treatment. She serves patients diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and sarcoma.

Upon receipt of the award, Woodward credited others with her achievement.

“I’ve had the most wonderful experience working with the most compassionate and mentoring nurses I’ve ever known in 27 years. They work incredibly hard taking care of unbelievably sick patients,” said Woodward. “I also have had the privilege of working with leadership which is supportive of each and every nurse in this position, and I have the joy of working with physicians who acknowledge and support my role as a wound, ostomy and continence nurse. They make a challenging job very rewarding.”

Wound, ostomy and continence nurses are a small and specialized group. According to the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society, there are only 3,900 such nurses in the United States, about half of whom are certified. Fewer than 1,000 are full-scope certified, or certified in all three areas, such as Woodward.

M. D. Anderson’s Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse Education Program is one of only three full-scope programs in the United States, attracting students from all over the world.

Wound, ostomy and continence nurses’ many responsibilities are varied. Not only do Woodward and her colleagues each see between 10 and 20 patients per day, they also are actively involved in educating new employees, nurse educators and students. M. D. Anderson’s WOC nurses also are required to participate in research initiatives, which often are published in medical journals, and they all volunteer their time teaching at universities and public schools.

At M. D. Anderson, a WOC nurse’s typical nine to 11-hour workday can include complicated wound care and marking a patient before surgery for an ostomy, which is a surgically created opening in the body for the discharge of body wastes. After surgery, a WOC nurse teaches patients and their caregivers to care for their acute or chronic wounds or ostomies.

WOC nurses’ schedules are physically and mentally challenging, said Woodward, and she credits her energy and strength to her patients.

“My patients have kept me going for 13 years,” said Woodward. “It’s hard to work here and not go above and beyond the call of duty when you are caring for patients who are putting up the fight of their lives.”

Woodward grew up in Omaha, Neb., and moved to Louisiana in 1972. In 1981, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Southeastern Louisiana University. She joined M. D. Anderson in 1991 as a staff nurse and as a clinical referral specialist, and obtained her oncology nurse professional certification in 1993. Four years later, she left the institution to pursue a career in home health care, which sparked her desire to learn more about wound care. She returned to M. D. Anderson to enroll in the institution’s Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse Education Program, and in 2000, she accepted a position at the institution as a WOC nurse.

Woodward was nominated for the Nurse of the Year, South Central Region of the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society in September 2003, and received a certificate from M. D. Anderson in 2003 for “Outstanding Educator.”

Woodward is a member of the Houston Chapter Oncology Nursing Society, the Oncology Nursing Society, as well as the regional and national Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society. In her rare spare time, Woodward also enjoys reading, sewing, raising African violets and spending time with her four granddaughters who range in age from one to 12 years old.

 Since 1982, the Brown Foundation, Inc. has been recognizing outstanding nurses at M. D. Anderson in the field of oncology. Recipients receive a check for $15,000 and a crystal plaque. Arceneaux Award recipients are chosen by a selection committee comprised of representatives from the clinical faculty, patient care administration and nursing at M. D. Anderson. The award is named in honor of Ethel Fleming Arceneaux, a strong advocate for patients and a mentor for colleagues during her 37-year tenure at the institution.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center