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Bringing Military Nursing Insights to Penn Policy Studies
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 01/09/2018

University of Pennsylvania Master of Public Health student Matthew Miclette began his interest in health policy while serving a six-year stint in the U.S. Army. He's now deeply involved with academic and governmental organizations seeking a solution to Philadelphia's opioid crisis.

Matthew Miclette, a former U.S. Army officer, current University of Pennsylvania Master of Public Health student, and a Policy Associate at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI), is the subject of an extensive interview on the website of the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative (PPI). And that's just one measure of his rising profile.

Although he only started at Penn in 2016, the former Army Nurse Corps captain has already distinguished himself in policy related achievements in both the Army and at the University. Last March, he led the four-person team that won the 2017 Fells Institute of Government's Public Policy Challenge. Each year, that real-world quest asks policy-minded students to develop policy proposals to improve life in the City of Philadelphia.

In their team's winning proposal, Miclette and three other Science in Social Policy (MSSP) students presented a plan that uses a text messaging reminder system and pharmacy drop boxes to facilitate a more convenient and effective way to dispose of unused opioid prescriptions.

The work of researching and preparing that proposal first put Miclette in touch with LDI and the Center for Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use Disorder, HCV and HIV (CHERISH). Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, CHERISH is a collaborative national research center bringing together experts from LDI, Cornell University's Weill Cornell Medical College, the Boston Medical Center, and the University of Miami School of Medicine.

In his first year at Penn, Miclette also co-founded and became Policy Director of Action Tank, a group of Philadelphia-area veterans currently focused on the local opioid crisis.

His patients were war-wounded soldiers just returned from Afghanistan and Iraq. A Tillman Foundation profile of him notes that "of the five quadruple amputee patients injured during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, three" were Miclette's patients.

Miclette joined the U.S. Army in 2010 after graduating with a BS in nursing from the University of Vermont. During his six years of military service, he rose to the rank of Captain and spent much of that time as a staff charge nurse at a Walter Reed National Military Medical Center surgical unit for amputee, orthopedic and rehabilitation services. His patients were war-wounded soldiers just returned from Afghanistan and Iraq. A Tillman Foundation profile of him notes that "of the five quadruple amputee patients injured during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, three" were Miclette's patients.

In the PPI interview about that period in his life, Miclette explained that "there was immense social support for those service members suffering physical injuries," but "the psychological injuries were too often overlooked." That need became Miclette's new mission. After two years on the Walter Reed surgical service, he enrolled in the Behavioral Health Nurse Course there and then spent the next three years as Charge Nurse at the Inpatient Behavioral Health unit of the Darnall Army Medical Center in Fort Hood, Texas.

There he became an advocate for improved behavioral health services for military patients and was increasingly involved in administrative policy discussions and actions designed to improve those services. He received both the U.S. Army's Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal for his work.

In 2016, Miclette was also named a policy scholar at the Tillman Foundation. The Foundation provides support and leadership training for academic military veterans interested in careers in public policy and service.

Founded in 2008, the Chicago-headquartered Foundation honors the memory and service legacy of Pat Tillman, an NFL All-Star player who shocked the sports world when he resigned from the Arizona Cardinals in the wake of the 911 attacks and joined the U.S. Army. He trained in special ops and served in the airborne 75th Ranger Regiment. In 2004, Tillman was killed on a mission in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

In its mission statement, the Tillman Foundation cites its current roster of 520 Tillman Scholar alumni across the country "as the next generation of private and public sector leaders (who) are tackling challenges across national security, healthcare, technology, civil rights and education."

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