Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Nurse Professional Advisory Committee

LT Bates standing in front of the flagSpotlighting the Career of LT Mekeshia Bates

Biography Contributed by: LT Alyssa Givens This Nursing Spotlight is brought to you by CDR Amy Valderrama, CDR Nichole Vetter and LCDR Allison Gallen

LT Mekeshia Bates is truly passionate about service in the Commissioned Corps and serves as an example of how dedication and enthusiasm can present an officer with many opportunities to advance the health of our nation. Her commitment to decreasing  behavioral health stigma and providing culturally competent behavioral  health care along with a strong desire to increase quality improvement (QI) efforts have led to valuable experiences and set a precedent for continuous career development. LT Bates found the Corps to be an integral part in her pursuit to help others. “I learned about the Corps by reading  the book From Sharecropper’s Daughter to Surgeon General written by Surgeon General  Joycelyn Elders. This book inspired me to join the Commissioned Corps.”

After completing her graduate education, LT Bates was selected to participate in the first cohort of nurses accepted to the Cleveland Veterans Affairs National Quality Scholars Fellowship program from 2009-2011. There she discovered her passion for the continuous quality improvement of healthcare services for veterans and the nation.

In 2012, LT Bates was commissioned and began her PHS career as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Fort Belvoir, VA. During this time, she provided crucial mental health care to active duty and retired members of the Uniformed Services and their families. It was LT Bates’s work in QI that would become an integral part of the development of the afterhours on-call standard operating procedures (SOP) and process map for the facility. Prior to the SOP, no system existed to ensure that adequate after-hours emergency mental  health care was readily available.  Because of heavy traffic in the area and long travel times to the  facility (sometimes >2 hours), psychiatry residents were hesitant to take on-call duties. The SOP led to the development of a process of on-call shifts among non-physician mental health providers, resulting in quicker response and allocation of resources to deliver essential care to those most in need. “My time spent at Fort Belvoir was one of the best experiences I’ve had in the Corps; it gave me the opportunity to work alongside members of our sister services and help to enhance  the mental health care of uniformed service members.”

Building upon the experience she gained at Fort Belvoir, LT Bates decided to take a step towards working on national health care policy. She accepted an assignment at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in 2015 as a Public Health Analyst where she oversaw a portfolio of grant recipients in the HIV/AIDS Education Branch that included the national evaluation of the eight regional HIV/AIDS education and training programs. Also, due to her QI experience, she had the opportunity to participate in a 120-day temporary duty assignment working directly with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, the acting Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH). She served as the subject matter expert for QI initiatives in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), specifically for those using the Lean and Lean Six Sigma methodologies. LT Bates served as a valuable resource to OASH staff in their projects by clarifying the importance of QI in the work conducted. In addition, training and implementing  the use of “huddle boards” provided  OASH staff with a way to express ideas for improvement. 

LT Bates feels her duty is to “represent the USPHS wherever I am and in whatever I am doing.” One way she lives this is through her active role as the chair-elect of the Junior Officer Advisory Group (JOAG). LT Bates also has some good advice for other nurse officers: “Don’t be afraid to take on new opportunities. Just say yes and figure it out later. Be open to learning - whether it is in or outside of your field -because that is how new skills are developed.”

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Page Last Modified on 3/16/2017

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