When you join the Commissioned Corps, you become a part of a dedicated team of professionals who work to improve the health of individuals, communities, and the Nation.
Meet some nurse officers from the Commissioned Corps.
Lieutenant Commander Jane M. Mattila
Nurse, Indian Health Service
Caring for an American Indian community…
LCDR Jane Mattila, a Commissioned Corps emergency room charge nurse serving in the Indian Health Service, grew up in Hamel, MN, not far away from the sovereign Nation of Red Lake. During nursing school, she realized she could live her dream of providing health care services to all community members. LCDR Mattila works hard each day to care for patients that range from pediatric to geriatric. They deliver all levels of care, including injuries resulting from traumas, gun shots, assaults, cardiac arrests, and automobile accidents. LCDR Mattila recalls that one of her most meaningful experiences serving as a Commissioned Corps officer in Red Lake happened the day a healed patient made a special trip back to the emergency room to say “thanks.” LCDR Mattila says, “Working in Red Lake is the best job I’ve ever had. It is such an honor to be able to provide needed health care services to such a wonderful community. If you love to eat and love to laugh, this is the place to be. The people of Red Lake enjoy creating a potluck celebration for any occasion.” As a Commissioned Corps officer, she feels a great sense of pride in her work and strives to be a good example for peers and new officers.
Lieutenant Commander Thomas Pryor
Nurse, Indian Health Service
Serving the underserved.
LCDR Thomas Pryor is an experienced nurse officer who is currently stationed at the Apache Health Care Facility in Dulce, NM. He serves a caseload of approximately 30 patients in the area, often driving as far as 60 miles to make visits to the homes of tribal elders who do not have their own transportation. He also serves a number of patients at the facility, where he provides everything from diabetes education to treatment of patients in renal failure. "As a nurse, I have had a fervent desire to provide care to underserved populations, especially those of the Native-American population," LCDR Pryor explains. Before taking his current position in New Mexico, LCDR Pryor spent 3 years as an intensive care nurse stationed at the Phoenix Indian Medical Public Health Center. The facility serves as a catch-all for the local tribe's medical needs and is where LCDR Pryor began to appreciate the Native-American culture.
Commander Ellen D. Simmons
Nurse, Indian Health Service
A career of "firsts."
Throughout her 22-year career in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, CDR Ellen D. Simmons is proud to acknowledge that she has been a part of many "firsts." In 1984, when CDR Simmons joined the Commissioned Corps as a nurse, HIV had just been identified by researchers at the CDC as the virus that caused AIDS. Several years later, as the disease spread across North America, CDR Simmons and her colleagues at the Indian Health Service (IHS) started the first HIV/AIDS clinic in Oklahoma for American Indians living there. Today, the clinic serves more than 40 clients a year, providing medical care and case management services. CDR Simmons continues to be involved with the clinic as the HIV/AIDS coordinator, in addition to her work as the health services coordinator for the larger facility's 350 employees and the case manager for the facility's workers' compensation program.
Captain William Gregory Wood
Nurse, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
HIV care, emergency response, and more.
CAPT William Gregory Wood, a nurse in the Commissioned Corps, works at the FDA to ensure that all marketing and correspondence undertaken by drug companies are consistent with FDA laws and regulations. Over the last 25 years of service with the Commissioned Corps, CAPT Wood has undertaken a number of efforts that have benefited the public. Working with a group of colleagues, CAPT Wood identified an alarming trend for HIV disease in Native-American populations, specifically in the southwest regions of the United States. CAPT Wood was appointed as the first director of the HIV-Diabetes-Oncology Centers of Excellence in Phoenix, AZ. CAPT Wood has been involved in a number of deployments, including an anthrax deployment in 2001 and deployments related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He started his career at the Corps as a nurse officer in Anchorage, AK.
Lieutenant Leorey Saligan
Nurse Practitioner, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health
Specializing in complicated illnesses.
As the only nurse practitioner serving inpatient and outpatient clinic admissions at the National Eye Institute, LT Leorey Saligan takes medical histories and performs physical examinations, as well as provides primary care to patients enrolled in National Eye Institute protocols for general eye disorders, sarcoidosis, glaucoma, and cornea problems. The outpatient clinic alone serves an average of 8,000 patients annually. "The patients I serve have complicated illnesses, so I developed the skill to explore all possibilities and effectively collaborate with other members of the multidisciplinary team." LT Saligan also works with pharmaceutical companies to provide medicine for people that can't afford it.
Lieutenant Christopher Howard
Nurse, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
On the cutting edge of cancer research.
Having fought for the Army in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and served at Walter Reed as a staff nurse and clinical educator would be a satisfying career for most people. But LT Christopher Howard wanted more. The opportunity to work at the National Institutes of Health and do clinical research in the oncology division inspired him to make the transfer from the Army to the Commissioned Corps. He explains, "The opportunity to do cancer research and be on the front end of that—almost like pioneering work—was an opportunity that I knew wouldn't be afforded in the Army." The National Cancer Institute is the leading Federal agency on new approaches to treatments. One such breakthrough is applying chemotherapy directly on tumors during surgery, instead of having patients receive chemotherapy through an IV or central line.
If you are a nursing student or nurse interested in the Commissioned Corps, take the next step! E-mail us your questions, call us at 800-279-1605, or apply online now.