Understanding the Partnership

In 1921, NPS Director Stephen Mather and the fifth US Surgeon General Hugh S. Cumming, signed a formal agreement between the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS) to protect, promote and advance the health of NPS employees and the visiting public. Since that time, USPHS, within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has formally partnered with the NPS to assign Commissioned Corps officers to protect and promote the health of employees and the visiting public to America’s parks. This 100 year partnership is said to be one of the oldest agreements in the Federal government. In 2009, a Memorandum of Agreement between HHS, PHS and NPS was expanded to the whole of the Department of the Interior (DOI), designating the NPS, Office of Public Health (OPH) as the operating division to recruit, support and manage PHS Commissioned Corps officers assigned to DOI.

Leadership, Service, Integrity and Excellence are the USPHS core values that are central to fulfilling the mission to protect, promote and advance the public health and safety of our nation. PHS Commissioned Corps officers are highly trained public health professionals who provide critical technical assistance and leadership to design, manage and/or evaluate systems that range from epidemiology and safety to injury prevention and clinical services. Members of this team possess expertise such as industrial hygiene, environmental health, epidemiology, nursing, medical care, veterinary medicine, injury prevention, engineering and science. The work OPH Commissioned Corps and civil service personnel perform ultimately address the complex and diverse public health issues impacting the DOI. Learn more about Commissioned Corps employment opportunities within DOI and explore the history by visiting the links below.

one person poses in a grey national park uniform next to a person in a blue USPHS uniform
Ranger Magazine: A Century of Support

Check out the 2020-2021 Winter Issue of Ranger Magazine's feature on the partnership.

Lieutenant Commander Delia Gilbert at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Watch the Invisible Corps Documentary

Learn more about the role of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps throughout history.

man in black uniform with a blue banner in background that reads Office of US Surgeon General
Celebrating 100 Years of Partnership

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy joins the NPS family in celebrating this historic partnership.

image of the United States Public Health Service seal
100 Years of Health in National Parks

Read more about the partnership in our featured article written by OPH Director, CAPT Sara Newman, and Health Promotion Chief, Diana Allen.

Last updated: April 12, 2024