Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Nurse Professional Advisory Committee

CDR Kolwaite standing in front of PHS and American flagsSpotlighting the Career of CDR Amy Kolwaite

Biography Contributed by: CDR Amy Valderrama

This Nursing Spotlight is brought to you by CDR Nichole Vetter, LCDR Allison Gallen, and LT Alyssa Givens

CDR Amy Kolwaite looks back on her career and can see the impact of great mentors on her path as a nurse and a Commissioned Corps officer. "I’ve been really fortunate in that I’ve always had really strong mentors, especially nurses, who have really believed in me, pushed and encouraged me to move to the next step."

CDR Kolwaite has an extensive academic career which includes receiving her BSN at Auburn University, Master of Science at Arizona State University, and Master of Public Health at the University of Arizona.

Interested in gaining practical, hands-on public health experience, she began her career in the USPHS at the CDC in 2010 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer where she was assigned to the Kentucky Department for Public Health in Frankfort, KY. She worked on monitoring and responding to communicable disease outbreaks and sup-ported public health preparedness activities, such as establishing a surveillance system for communicable diseases at the World Equestrian Games. While she was in KY, CDR Kolwaite helped to develop deployment training exercises for PHS re-sponse teams, including APHT and others. As part of the deployment training exercises, she led a Communi-ty Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) which assessed community preparedness for disasters, such as floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes. CDR Kolwaite also had the opportunity to deploy for 3 months to Uganda on a Stop Transmission of Polio as-signment. This deployment fueled her passion for glob-al health and led her down her current career path.

From 2012-2013, she completed the CDC Preventive Medicine Fellowship on the Global team in the Division of Viral Hepatitis, CDC. The Preventive Medicine Fellowship, which only became available to nurses in 2011, is a one year fellowship providing hands-on experience in public health agencies at the federal, state, and local levels in designing and evaluating programs, developing health policy, conducting community health improvement projects, managing public health projects, and developing and applying leadership skills. During her fellowship, CDR Kolwaite collaborated with countries to address the burden of viral hepatitis. For example, she worked closely with the Egyptian Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO), and US agencies, such as USAID and the State Department, on developing a Plan of Action for Viral Hepatitis Prevention and Control. This plan was endorsed by Egypt’s president in 2014 and has been used to guide viral hepatitis prevention programs in Egypt. She also worked with WHO to develop Hepatitis B screening and treatment guidelines for low resource settings and birth dose guidelines for Hepatitis B vaccine.

In 2015, CDR Kolwaite joined CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion’s Interna-tional Infection Control Program (IICP) as a nurse epidemiologist and team lead. Her team bridges the gap between knowledge and implementation of infection prevention and control programs globally. IICP supports low and middle resource countries to (1) improve infection control programs, (2) implement surveillance for healthcare associat-ed infections, and (3) work to decrease antimicrobial resistance through various activi-ties, such as building laboratory capacity, conducting staff trainings in-country, and working with governments to draft national policies and guidelines.

" I feel like I’ve come full circle. My ten years working as a nurse and nurse practitioner gave me a great perspective on what I’m doing. It gave me solid and practical experi-ence which I’m able to pull from when working overseas and now I’m able to give back and mentor others."

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