Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Nurse Professional Advisory Committee

Spotlighting the Career of LT Thomas TranLT Thomas Tran Standing in front of PHS and US Flag

Biography Contributed by: LCDR Allison Gallen

This Nursing Spotlight is brought to you by CDR Amy Valderrama, CDR Nichole Vetter, and LT Alyssa Givens

One of LT Thomas Tran’s greatest accomplishments has been his time in service to his country. He is grateful for the opportunity to serve and states that, “I enjoy the culture of being in the service. The discipline, teamwork and courtesies align with my core values.” LT Tran immigrated to the United States from Vietnam when he was 16 years old and began his uniformed career by enlisting with the US Navy after fin-ishing high school. While in the Navy, he worked as an aviation mechanic attached to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln battle group. After 5 years of dedicated service, he decided that aviation was not his calling and went to college to explore other fields. While working as a pharmacy technician, he had the opportunity to engage with other healthcare personnel and felt that nursing would be a good fit for his skills and interests. Using his Post 9/11 GI Bill, he attended Texas A&M Univer-sity in Corpus Christi, TX and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. It was after graduation that he learned about the USPHS through his cousin, a pharmacy officer working for the Bureau of Prisons. She was able to share with him the numer-ous benefits of joining the PHS and the opportunity seemed to be a perfect fit for his clinical skills and his continued desire to serve his country.

While in the application process to join the USPHS, LT Tran began working as a civilian clinical nurse for the IHS at the urgent care and family medicine clinic in Shiprock, New Mexico. In June 2013, he was commissioned and states, “I was proud to get to wear the uniform again.” After identifying a specific need in the community where he was serving, he became board certified in wound care and took the position of Wound Care Nurse Specialist with the outpatient surgery clinic at the Northern Navajo Medical Center. In this role he provided care for patients with wounds, ostomies, and incontinence-related skin issues. While he felt fulfilled in his duties, he missed traveling and seeing new places. After a family vacation in the Southeast part of Alaska, he decided to take a Nurse Case Management position in isolated but beautiful Kodiak Island, Alaska. From November 2015 until May 2017 he served in this role before taking the position of Nurse Quality Specialist for the Kodiak Area Native Association. His current duties include working as an infection preventionist, conducting utilization reviews, manag-ing the clinic’s telemedicine program, being a super-user for the electronic health record system, and train-ing rural health aides. He is enjoying the career change because he gets to use a different skill set. “It allows me to work autonomously and use my background with computers to facilitate improved workflows within the clinic utilizing the electronic health record system.” 

While being stationed in a remote location with only three other PHS officers at his duty station, LT Tran has sought other opportunities to get more involved with the USPHS and network with other officers. He is a member of RDF-5, participates in the Junior Officer Advisory Group, was an alternate chair for the Asian Pacific American Officers Committee, and attended the 2017 USPHS Scientific and Training Symposium. In 2016 his RDF team participated in a week-long deployment in Virginia for Hurricane Matthew. Although his deployment role was Wound Care Nurse Specialist, his team spent the week preparing a warehouse for the operation. It was through this mission that he determined his calling is in emergen-cy management and he plans to further his education in this field, “So that I can help protect the health of the nation during natural disasters.” 

For LT Tran, service to our country is paramount. He also feels that it is important to travel and grow through education. He advises newly commissioned officers to “Learn as much as you can. Learn from other officers. Take their experience and learn from it. Set goals and put forth a plan to accomplish them...”

*If you are interested in learning more about the agency where LT Tran works, you may contact him directly at thomas.tran@kodiakhealthcare.org

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Page Last Modified on 11/2/2017

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