Rear Admiral, US Public Health Services (retired)
A native of Fall River, Julia Plotnick graduated from the St. Anne's Hospital School of Nursing and built an extensive career in public health including service as the U.S. assistant surgeon general and chief nurse of the U.S. Public Health Service.
During her time at the U.S. Public Health Service, as a community health and maternal/child specialist, she has held various national positions and accepted special international assignments with the World Health Organization (WHO), including assisting the WHO Iraq office to develop a plan of action to re-establish health services in Iraq and assisting the Ministry of Health in Romania in developing plans to improve health services for mothers and children. She also has served as an international consultant on nursing and health care in numerous countries, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zaire and Croatia, and she represented the United States on the Global Advisory Group on Nursing to the director-general of the WHO.
She has received numerous awards and citations including the Audrey Hepburn Sigma Theta Tau International Award, the Surgeon General's Medallion, and the Distinguished Service Medal from the U.S. Public Health Service. She is also an American Academy of Nursing Fellow. "Nursing is a calling. Without that, you just can't do it," Plotnick has said. "It has to be your lifework, and you have to care."
Although now officially retired, Plotnick continues to promote the nursing profession around the world, and was recently named chair of the Health Volunteers Organization. She has said that she has no choice but to do what she's doing, "Everyone has something to give and most of us don't even realize our potential. If you have the ability to make an impact, you have to give back or the opportunity is lost forever."