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CDC Registered Nurses

Did you know that Registered Nurses (RNs) are the largest segment of the health care work force? Here at CDC there are about 100 nurses. Their duties and responsibilities range from Branch Chief to Deputy Director, from EIS Officer to Public Health Advisor, or from Senior Scientist to Occupational Health Nurse. We can′t spotlight them all, but we would like to introduce you to a few.

Susan E. Dietz, RN, MS

Strategic Communications Advisor/ Office of Strategy and Innovation/ Office of the Director

Sue Dietz

Sue Dietz followed her heart and her mother′s footsteps. " . . . My mother was definitely my inspiration for becoming a nurse," Dietz said. "Mom was one of the earliest bachelor qualified nurses in this country and I am so proud of her". Dietz has a bachelor′s degree in nursing and a masters of science in management, but said it was what she learned from her mother–caring, accepting everyone for who they really are and doing all that she can to make a difference–that prepared her for the work she did with people living with AIDS.

"The most rewarding experiences I have had in nursing were those during my time as the Director of the Milwaukee AIDS Project in the mid-eighties," she said. "It was a turbulent time of fear, grief, and uncertainty. . . .I found that being a nurse to persons living with AIDS meant that I was a caregiver, an advocate, a counselor, a manager, and a friend."

Mark Simmerman

Mark Simmerman, PhD is a Registered Nurse and a Public Health Advisor in Thailand, with NCID. He was drawn to his career through volunteer work.

"My original inspiration came from volunteering in a Sudanese refugee camp with thousands of Eritrean refugees escaping civil war. I was 17 and fortunate enough to work with two amazing women, both Master's prepared Nurse Practitioners," Simmerman said. ". . .the idea of choosing nursing over medicine struck me that summer."

Simmerman returned to the US and went to nursing school in the fall. At the age of 20, he became an RN and immediately began working. After receiving his bachelor′s, he accepted a PHS commission and an assignment as a Public Health Nurse with the Indian Health Service in Montana. He transferred two years later, however, and went back to school for his master′s and family nurse practitioner training.

"[Following] graduation, I took a job in a remote, roadless part of central Alaska along the Yukon River," Simmerman said. "I cared for patients at several small Native Alaskan village clinics, traveling from one village to another by snow machine, by my own boat, and by small propeller airplane."

After nearly five years in Alaska, Simmerman said, he "wanted to work on a PhD to increase [his] epidemiology skills and . . . write for publication." "CDC seemed like the best place for me to continue my career. I accepted a job as a PHA with the National Immunization Program in New Orleans and went to school at Tulane University School of Public Health."

Simmerman′s participation in the STOP polio program through NIP led him to look for long term opportunities with CDC overseas. After finishing his doctoral coursework, he was offered a position with the first International Emerging Infections Program in Thailand. "It has been the most challenging and rewarding job of my career and I feel I have matured substantially, both as an administrator and as an epidemiologist, by working with the talented people who make IEIP a success."

Patricia Drehobl is an RN and MPH in the Division of Applied Public Health Training, Epidemiology Program Office who said she really didn′t know much about nursing but, when she connected with patients as a summer student nurse′s aide, she became "hooked."

"My first job was in a very busy pediatric intensive care unit in a teaching hospital, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke′s, in Chicago. What an eye-opening experience that was! I worked in various clinical settings before finding my way to public health, for which I have great passion."

After finishing her MPH degree at Emory, she worked as a health education specialist in the National Immunization Program then moved to PHPPO′s Division of Professional Development and served as the director of CDC′s Continuing Education Program. "I′ve kept my ties with nursing and developed the Continuing Nursing Education program shortly after CDC became accredited."

Following September 11, 2001, Drehobl worked with the terrorism preparedness and emergency response team serving in several challenging management positions.

"I had a leadership role in getting CDC′s Emergency Response Teams off the ground and participated with NIP and BPRP colleagues in developing the training component of the national smallpox vaccination campaign," Drehobl said. "Having the opportunity to shape how we would conduct the vaccination training for state and local health department staff, I called upon CDC nurses to volunteer to be trained and serve as trainers for administering smallpox vaccine. As usual, CDC nurses came through and we successfully trained state and local health department staff."

In 2002, Drehobl was honored to receive the U.S. Public Health Service Chief Nurse Officer Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to nursing. She is currently with the Epidemiology Program Office as the TPER coordinator for the Division of Applied Public Health Training.

"It has been a privilege to work with CDC′s dedicated staff and our public health colleagues across the country. I am convinced my nursing background paved the way for me to enter public health and to advance my CDC career performing the type of meaningful work I imagined so many years ago," she said.

Amy Collins, RN, MPH, CDR, USPHS, Epidemiologist, NCCDPHP DOH said, "CDC nurses are making a difference in healthcare both nationally and internationally every day. They serve in a variety of roles such as educators, health communicators, information technologists, researchers, epidemiologists, program specialists, and managers."

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