Officer: LTJG Patric C. Klotzbuecher
Category: Engineer (Biomedical)
Education: A.A.S., Aerospace Armament Systems, Community College of the Air Force; B.S., Biomedical Engineering & Biomathematics, Rutgers University MBA, Engineering Management, Drexel University (December 2011)
Home town: Atlantic City, New Jersey
Current Assignment and Duties: I am assigned to the FDA's Office of Regulatory Affairs, San Juan District, Investigations Branch as an Investigator/Consumer Safety Officer in Ponce, Puerto Rico. I plan and conduct regulatory inspections of FDA regulated industries (e.g., medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs), including analyzing investigative data and initiating regulatory actions.
Previous Assignment: I was previously assigned to an FDA field office in Falls Church, VA. Given my desire to branch out from Washington, D.C. metropolitan area while I still had the desire for mobility, my focus in the areas of medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs, and the high concentration of large manufacturing facilities for both industries in Puerto Rico, I accepted a transfer to the island in late 2009.
How did you find out about the PHS? I was negotiating a start date with the FDA as a civilian employee when a PHS liaison for the FDA contacted me. I was a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force (USAF) at the time, and planned on transitioning to the USAF Reserve/National Guard position and work at FDA fulltime. Transferring to the PHS afforded me the opportunity to obtain a commission, carry over much of my prior service time, and pursue a career as a uniformed service member as a Biomedical Engineer.
What are your goals with the PHS? A sense of leadership beyond the scope of our professional credentials or our individual billets is still evolving in the Corps. As an officer, I aspire to be one of those who leads the way. In true engineering fashion, I hope to bring together many of my interdisciplinary skills to contribute toward the advancement of public health.
What is your most memorable PHS experience so far? As the Mobilization Branch Director of the Tier I PHS-2 Rapid Deployment Force (“Second to None”), my most memorable experiences include serving with fellow PHS officers while billeting on concrete floors for weeks during Hurricanes Gustav and Ike and working hand-in-hand with the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) during the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.
What advice would you give to prospective PHS applicants (or other Jr. Officers)? First, get to know the ‘ins & outs’ of your Agency and PHS. Especially with civilian supervisors, a working knowledge of the system allows you to educate your management and provides you more leverage when dealing with issues. Second, don’t accept anything that is not 100% accurate just to “push it through” administrative processes. A simple mistake or miscalculation can result in many hours in correction later. Third, surround yourself with good mentors, whether official or unofficial.
What were the difficult aspects of your recent inter-service transfer? As an officer on a Tier I deployment team, balancing the demands of both my Agency and PHS can be challenging. In other uniformed services, Reservists and Guardsmen maintain their civilian careers around the operational requirements of their service. In a way we do the same, but it seems that our Agencies are less sensitive to the dichotomy required of us.
What are your favorite things about living in Puerto Rico? What are the challenges?" I am nearly fluent in Spanish, but locals tend to speak very fast. So, when working in the regulatory environment where it is very important to be clear, direct, and fully understood, the language barrier can be a challenge. For example, FDA has a statutory English language requirement for all documentation, including Investigators’ regulatory notes. I often find myself interacting in Spanish, mentally translating and documenting items in English, then re-translating into Spanish to carry on a conversation. It takes a great deal of patience and can sometimes become a limiting factor during an investigation. On the upside, I get to skip winter! I am fortunate to be stationed in a location where many vacation. Puerto Rico is perfect for anyone who enjoys working hard, but also appreciates playing hard.
Source: JOAG Journal
Used with permission of the Junior Officer Advisory Group