Most public health clinicians claim their chosen profession as both passion and calling. Natasha Kormanik, RN, takes it a step further: her role as a public health nurse is also her duty to her country.
Kormanik is an officer in the Public Health Service, one of America's seven uniformed services. Though her current role as a clinical research nurse at the National Institutes of Health may preclude her deployment during a public health disaster, FEMA-trained Lieutenant Junior Grade Kormanik is hard at work to ensure that she is ready for whatever the future holds.
"Hopkins' global view made me fall in love with public health," Kormanik recalls. In the baccalaureate program, she traveled to St. Croix to conduct health screening and to Australia with the Minority Global Health Disparities Research Training Program. Kormanik never looked back, and today she is earning her MSN with a focus in Public Health Nursing.
"I love policy work and research," Kormanik explains of her decision to enroll part-time in the MSN program in fall 2010. "The Hopkins community showed me this path through its perspective on international health and how nurses can make a difference. I truly believe that the only environment for me is at Hopkins. The program makes me think, and I'm always being pushed."
She credits her professors' and classmates' global experiences for offering her a unique view on public health: "The faculty and my colleagues, many of whom are returning Peace Corps volunteers, are empowering and intriguing—they're the company I want to keep. My classmates are able to teach me. I only see the communities I've worked in, but someone who has spent four years in the middle of rural Africa is fascinating."
Kormanik's professional and academic aspirations firmly rest on the home front, though. "I love international work, but I believe that there are many health disparities in the United States," she explains. "I would like to work to change the culture and policy of this country." In 2012, after serving four years to the NIH, she plans to go reserve status with the Public Health Service so she can enroll full time at Hopkins to pursue a PhD. Then she'll re-up, and if her ultimate dream comes true, perhaps one day she'll be serving her country as Assistant U.S. Surgeon General.
When she gets there, Kormanik has no question as to who bears the lion's share of the credit. "Hopkins educates global nurse leaders," she says. "If you learn from the best, you get inspired."