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Pharmacist Spotlight – U.S. Public Health Service Rear Adm. Taylor Reflects on His Career

Image of Pharmacist Spotlight – U.S. Public Health Service Rear Adm. Taylor Reflects on His Career. U.S. Public Health Service Rear Adm. Brandon Taylor, director Defense Health Agency Public Health, addresses Defense Centers for Public Health–Aberdeen staff, guests, and officials on April 5, 2023, as part of a ribbon-cutting ceremony launching the new $248 million, 280,000-square-foot Public Health Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. (U.S. Defense Centers for Public Health–Aberdeen photo by Graham Snodgrass).

A career in the Public Health Service has taught Defense Health Agency Public Health Director U.S. Public Health Service Rear Adm. Brandon Taylor many lessons. Even before he started his career, he learned some of those lessons from one of his early influences, Bill Medlin, a pharmacist who was a member of his church in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

“I think one of the most appealing characteristics that drew me to him and the profession of pharmacy was his relationship with his patients and staff,” said Taylor. “He treated each as a person, a friend and even a family member. So personally, today I strive to establish meaningful and lasting relationships and treat all with respect and kindness as he did. In my view, it's really all about relationships and being of service to those for whom we have stewardship.”

Taylor has been in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps for more than 26 years and most recently was chief of staff for the Indian Health Service within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He has a doctorate in pharmacy and is board certified in pharmacotherapy. He is an enrolled member of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation and the Cherokee Nation.

In anticipation of National Pharmacists Day on Jan. 12, 2023, Taylor reflected on his career in public health and how some of his experiences as a pharmacist shaped how he leads today.

“I have learned a ton through the observation of others, and through self-reflection and assessment,” said Taylor. “I've learned accountability by being an on-call pharmacist early in my career. You're the pharmacist on duty, making decisions that affect patient care; participating in life-changing emergency codes where my skills were put to the test. I am fortunate to have served in leadership roles early in my career which honestly, have transformed me over time; I learned to care for others more than myself.”

Taylor says part of his development was observing and learning from others how to behave, and sometimes not to behave.

“Several experiences that remind me of what an honor and a privilege it is to wear this uniform include taking care of patients, assisting a patient's family dealing with the loss of a loved one who was admitted into the hospital, or my experience in Puerto Rico leading a 139-officer team in response to hurricanes Harvey and Maria,” said Taylor. “Other experiences include skimming down the Nanay River outside of Iquitos, Peru, headed to a remote village to see first-hand how federal resources are used to inform service member Force Health Protection and on and on. During these experiences over a 26-plus year career, I often find myself asking, “What am I doing here? How did I even get here?” I strive to take it all in and realize what a blessing it is to serve, to put this uniform on day in and day out and ultimately learn how to be like a Bill Medlin in practice and not just in theory.”

Taylor says he has enjoyed his career in public health, and he is always recruiting and sharing the benefits of service.

“We have such great opportunities that I would have never ever predicted,” said Taylor. “When I started my career with the Indian Health Service in Oklahoma, I would have never predicted even aspiring to the rank of admiral or finding myself in senior leadership roles in the Department of Defense and DHA. Some of my temporary duty assignments around the world and in some remote parts of the United States are just amazing experiences that have broadened my view of humanity and broadened my view of what it means to serve.”

Taylor, who has been married for more than 30 years, has four children and four “children-in-law,” who he also considers to be part of the family. He also has two grandchildren.

“I love seeing my children turn into adults and become independent and really take ownership of who they are and what they're doing; what they're learning about their lives and that's been really fun, even though it's been challenging to see them leave the house,” said Taylor. “But now, as we turn this corner into this new world of being grandparents, it just really increases the amount of love in our family, which has been a huge blessing for us.”

Taylor says his own family helps inform his approach in supporting the military family.

“Everything we do in in DHA and public health is geared to the health of service members, family members, civilians, and military animals,” said Taylor. “Our focus is on prevention and mitigation. The public health community is very passionate about this work, and it's because we believe in the mission. American ideals and principles are in support of the nation's goals to protect its people and its interests, which, frankly, namely are our families—and that's why we do it. That's why I do it, and I've learned that's why so many of my colleagues do it.”

When reflecting on his first year at DHA, Taylor says he’s learned the true complexity of public health from the DOD perspective.

“Our portfolio is substantial and complex, and it can be overwhelming,” said Taylor. “Not just from the things that are going on today as far as transformation and recently transitioning the public health centers from the services to DHA. What I'm most inspired by is the unwavering passion within the public health community. It doesn't matter what uniform is worn. Doesn't matter if you're civilian, prior service, or active duty in the public health community enterprise, there is great passion and a keen focus on the mission to provide public health support and solutions to the enterprise. It inspires me every day.”

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Last Updated: January 12, 2024
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