News Story

Georgetown University School of Nursing 2023 Commencement Speaker: Rear Admiral Susan M. Orsega, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN

Headshot of Rear Admiral Susan M. Orsega, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN
Rear Admiral Susan M. Orsega, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN

(May 3, 2023) — Georgetown University School of Nursing is honored to welcome Rear Admiral Susan M. Orsega, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, the longest serving Public Health Service officer in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, as its commencement speaker for the graduating Class of 2023.

For more than 33 years, Orsega has served in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and currently serves as the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Health and the U.S. Surgeon General.

Commissioned in 1989, Orsega was first assigned to the National Institutes of Health as the HIV/AIDS epidemic was unfolding. Then, as a nurse practitioner, Orsega was assigned to the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and managed global partnerships in multiple African countries during periods of emerging infectious disease outbreaks such as Ebola and HIV.

In 2019, she was selected as the Director of Commissioned Corps Headquarters at the Office of the Surgeon General and managed the activation of the largest historical deployment of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in support of international and national COVID-19 efforts.

Orsega was appointed by President Joe Biden and served as Acting Surgeon General of the United States in early 2021 pending the Senate confirmation of Dr. Vivek H. Murthy. Orsega was the first nurse practitioner to ever hold this position.

Now as the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Health and the U.S. Surgeon General, Orsega is the principal advisor on a full range of Office of the Assistant Secretary, Office of Surgeon General, and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps programs, policies and activities.

Orsega has served in 18 disaster and humanitarian deployments around the world in far reaching places. Orsega’s distinguished public health emergency experience and focus on nursing practice has been widely recognized, receiving numerous awards reflecting her varied accomplishments that include:

  • The American Nursing Credentialing Center’s Princess Muna Al Hussein Award in 2019 for her commitment to nursing and healthcare across the global landscape;
  • the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2016;
  • the Uniformed Services University Graduate of School of Nursing Alumni of the Year award in 2015; and
  • the National Institutes of Health Director’s award in 2002 for her exceptional performance as a responder to September 11th attack in New York City

Orsega earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Towson University and a Master of Science degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing’s Nurse Practitioner program. She was inducted as a Fellow in the American Association of Nurse Practitioners in 2013, and the American Academy of Nursing in 2016.

As the longest standing United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps career officer and two-star admiral, she is well-known as a subject matter expert in disaster response, strategic leadership, HIV/AIDS practice, global health diplomacy, and international operations. Orsega co-authored 32 articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented at 50 major scientific and nursing conferences around the world.

In recognition of her dedication to improving health equity and access through service to our country, Georgetown University will bestow upon Orsega the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa.

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