IU Student Sydney Taylor Shares Jr. Commissioned Officer Student Training Experience

ENS Sydney Taylor on the Bridge of a vessel.

The U.S Public Health Service (USPHS) is one of the nation’s seven uniform services and is under the Department of Health and Human Services. The USPHS have over 6,000 Commissioned Officers whose mission is “Protecting, Promoting, and Advancing the Health and Safety of the Nation”.

The USPHS offers internships through the Junior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (JRCOSTEP). These training positions are available to fulltime students who have completed at least 2 years of study in a professionally accredited baccalaureate program in specific health disciplines that meets the USPHS Environmental Health Officer requirements; or students who are enrolled in a master’s level program that meets the USPHS Environmental Health Officer requirements. JRCOSTEPs work in the same exciting federal agencies and program as active duty Commissioned Corps officers. JRCOSTEPs receive the basic pay and allowances of an O-1 (Ensign) officer unless they have prior military service.

Sydney S. Taylor is a second-year master’s student at Indiana University School of Public Health, Bloomington, IN. She is currently earning her degree in Environmental and Occupational Health with a Safety Management certificate. Sydney participated in the 2019 JRCOSTEP and was assigned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) in Atlanta, GA.

VSP’s mission is to prevent the introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships calling on U.S Ports. One of the many ways VSP fulfills its mission is by conducting operation inspection. The goal of the operations inspections is to protect the health of crew and guest on the ships. These inspections focus on how to prevent hazardous events from happening while looking at food and technical operations.

While assigned to the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program, Sydney had the privileged of inspecting 10 cruise ships, traveling to 6 cities and meeting dedicated Commissioned Officers who were willing and ready to train her. Her inspectional duties included but not limited to housekeeping, pest control, recreational water facilities, galleys, and medical centers.

According to Sydney, she was so happy to have applied to the JRCOSTEP after meeting with LT Antwi during the 2018 fall career fair hosted by the Indiana University School of Public Health. She stated “I could go on and on, but this summer has been the biggest highlights of my professional career. I had a major boost of confidence and self-esteem. I had the pleasure of working with an amazing team as well. The support and love this summer were unconditional, and I truly enjoyed the bond I made with my team and mentors. I had no idea that U.S Public Health Service existed before I applied to this internship, but I have concluded that after graduation I would like to join the Public Health Service and become an Environmental Health Officer. I was exposed to many things throughout the summer and I am so grateful for the experience. I highly recommend the JRCOSTEP; the experience gives students the opportunity to enhance their skills and provide professional field work”.


Where can students learn more about the U.S Public Health Service Commissioned Corps?

More information about the USPHS can be found at https://www.usphs.gov/

More information about EHOPAC can be found at https://dcp.psc.gov/osg/eho/


Who is our assigned Recruit-An-Environmental Health Officer?

LT Lewis K. Antwi, MPH, MA

Email: lewis.antwi@fda.hhs.gov

Additionally, LT Antwi will be present during the 2020 Spring Career fair and will be more than happy to discuss opportunities within the U.S Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

ENS Sydney Taylor testing pH and chlorine values in a swimming pool.

VSP inspectors after an operations inspection.

LT Antwi and Sydney Taylor at the 2019 Career Fair.

Members of the VSP team at VSP Seminar Training in Miami, FL

By LT Lewis Kofi Antwi, MPH, MA
LT Lewis Kofi Antwi, MPH, MA Environmental Health Officer