Commissioned Corps: The Nation’s Leaders in Public Health

April 25, 2014


Acting Surgeon General RADM Boris D. Lushniak

Driven by a passion for public health, the men and women of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service embody the core values of the service – leadership, service, integrity and excellence. Specifically, the Corps defines Leadership as “providing vision and purpose in public health through inspiration, dedication, and loyalty.”

RADM Boris Lushniak, the Acting U.S. Surgeon General, is a strong leader and passionate advocate for the Corps’ noble mission: to protect, promote and advance the health and safety of the nation. He notes that “Leadership is the ability to motivate others to steer towards a common institutional goal. I’ve been in the service now for over a quarter of a century. Am I done learning about leadership? Absolutely not. I learn something new every day about leadership. One is always a student of leadership. One is never an expert at leadership.”

RADM Lushniak has deployed in response to several man-made and natural disasters which afforded him a unique opportunity to serve those in need and grow as a leader. In 2001, he deployed to the World Trade Center site in New York and a month later he deployed to combat the anthrax attacks in Washington, DC. He credits these experiences with having a significant impact on his leadership development. “You saw excellent leaders around you. You were put under stress, you saw what you are capable of, where you did well and later on, upon analysis, where you may have fumbled the ball a little bit.”

In another example of Corps leadership, RADM Sylvia Trent-Adams, Chief Nurse Professional Officer, notes that all successful Corps leaders display a commitment to mission, as well as an understanding that public health is a huge responsibility for our nation. “Their drive, their interest, their fire is for public health,” says RADM Trent-Adams.

RADM Trent-Adams demonstrates leadership as the Deputy Associate Administrator in the HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB). In this role, she assists in managing the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, a $2.3 billion program that funds medical care, treatment, referrals and support services for uninsured and underserved people living with HIV disease. In addition to her work at the HAB, RADM Trent-Adams currently serves on the Federal Public Health Nurse Leadership Council.


Chief Nurse Officer RADM Sylvia Trent-Adams

“Leadership is not an option in the Corps,” says RADM Trent-Adams. “That’s one of the things the Corps has demanded of me – to continue to improve my skill sets, increase my knowledge, to continue my education and to also expect that I would be a leader.”

Once officers are commissioned into the Corps, they are part of an elite team of over 6,500 well-trained, highly qualified public health leaders that fill essential roles within the nation's federal agencies. Officers serve at hundreds of duty stations across the nation and in various professional capacities.

“Anything is possible in the Corps,” says RADM Trent-Adams, “there are so many different opportunities, there are so many innovative programs.”

Page Last Modified on 5/2/2014