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CDR Kristina Melia | Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service Skip to main content

CDR Kristina Melia

February 2023 Spotlight

“Providing patients with an opportunity to feel heard, validated, and express their concerns increased trust in our pharmacy providers and increased vaccination rates through a shared decision-making approach.”

CDR Kristina Melia serves as a clinical pharmacist for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Health Service Corps (IHSC). She received her U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) commission in 2013. As a board-certified ambulatory care pharmacist, she supported the Clinical Pharmacy Program in drafting pharmacy polices and provides direct care to noncitizens in ICE custody.

CDR Melia became aware of the USPHS Commissioned Corps during a pharmacy school rotation with the Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Pharmacy Affairs. From that moment on, the USPHS Commissioned Corps mission inspired her to devote her career to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our nation.  

After graduating pharmacy school in 2012, she began the application process to commission. Committed to joining, she visited several Indian Health Service sites and interviewed with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and IHSC. The commissioning process took about nine months.

CDR Melia remarks, “I am committed to providing care to underserved populations and contributing to public health.” She enjoys serving patients and collaborating with other health care professionals. This gives her career fulfillment and satisfaction.

COVID-19 pandemic. Like the rest of the world, IHSC patients sought accurate medical information and a means to prevent poor outcomes related to infection. Patients were uncertain and fearful about receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. Patients acceptance required time-intensive counseling utilizing translators and written patient education in a language patients could understand. CDR Melia listened to patients and heard their concerns; she gave them an opportunity to feel heard and validated. Her empathy and compassion ensured better health for more patients. “I provide education and medical care to an underserved, medically vulnerable population who have had limited to no previous medical care,

CDR Melia values mentoring as a way to pay forward the good advice and character-building discussions that benefited her. Hearing the excitement and gratitude from officers after their promotion keeps her energized to continue working as a mentor with fellow officers. 

As a leader, CDR Melia strives to serve others and improve herself. She looks for opportunities where she can fill critical needs. CDR Melia knows there is always a level of uncertainty when deployed or assigned a new task, but she reminds herself that she is filling a necessary role. 

CDR Melia looks forward to experiences that will help her grow professionally. Officers will always serve the USPHS Commissioned Corps mission and wear the uniform proudly, but as individuals they take responsibility for their career and leadership development.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, CDR Melia deployed to the University of Nebraska Medical Center where she assisted in the response operations for repatriation of Wuhan, China evacuees. She learned the importance of flexibility as her deployment role changed three times before she was assigned to the Incident Management Team as an operations group manager. Her responsibility was to provide evacuees with up-to-date information. 

In May 2022, CDR Melia supported an inter-agency COVID-19 testing mission in Yuma, Arizona. She supported Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operations, testing individuals prior to transfer and reporting results to CBP staff and IHSC leadership.

CDR Melia advises those considering a career in the U.S. Public Health Service that the work is not always glamorous and seeing the impact of your work takes time.

The job you are performing, whether big or small, contributes to the overall mission,” CDR Melia said. “Let that knowledge motivate you to work hard.”

CDR Melia wants her fellow Public Health Service officers to remember her as a person who took the time to solve a problem that was important to them.

At the end of my Public Health Service officer career, I want to know that I made a positive impact on my colleagues and the individuals I served,” CDR Melia said.

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