The University of San Francisco: School of Nursing

The Bridge - USF School of Nursing Newsletter

The Bridge - USF School of Nursing Newsletter 
Spring 2010 - Vol V Issue 1

Nursing Alumna Named Chief Nurse Officer
for U.S. Public Health Service

School of Nursing alumna Kerry Paige Nesseler ’78 has taken on a key leadership role in the United States Public Health Service after being selected last year as the agency’s chief professional officer for the nurse category.

Rear Admiral Kerry Paige Nessler

In this role, Nesseler provides leadership and coordination of the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS) nursing professional affairs for the Office of the Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services. She also provides guidance and advice to the Surgeon General, the Nurse Professional Advisory Committee, and the nation’s nursing community on matters such as prevention, primary care, health systems development, recruitment, retention, readiness, and career development of PHS nurses.

As one of the country’s seven uniformed services, the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service is a team of more than 6,000 full-time public health professionals who deliver the country’s public health promotion and disease prevention programs.

"I am humbled and honored by this distinction and in awe of the responsibilities and stewardship the position of United States Public Health Service chief nurse officer symbolizes," Nesseler said. "I stand on a solid foundation that we have built together to grow and reach our goals for a healthier, safer, and stronger America. Our basic nursing education is the groundwork that guides our practice, priorities, and values. With a strong, evidence-based curriculum, coupled with cultural and spiritual sensitivity, the University of San Francisco School of Nursing sparked my desire to care for the vulnerable and underserved populations and to focus on prevention and public health."

Nesseler’s nursing career reflects experience in varied positions, agencies, geographical locations, and types of health venues from service in hospitals, clinics and community health to policy positions and academic posts. She began her Commissioned Corps career in 1986 as a maternal and child health clinical nurse specialist at the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation in Minnesota. In addition to her service for the Indian Health Service, she has held positions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, most recently, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

In 2002, she was appointed as the first woman and first nurse to lead the Bureau of Health Professions as the bureau’s associate administrator. She has also participated in the World Health Organization’s Global Advisory Group on Nursing and Midwifery for six years, serving on special assignments in the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Libya, Virgin Islands, Louisiana, and Minnesota.

She was appointed director of the HRSA Office of International Health and Commissioned Corps Affairs in 2006. In that role, she served as the principal adviser and consultant to the HRSA’s administrator on international policies, health systems, and programs to increase the health status of the population worldwide.

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