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UMass Diabetes Nurse Practitioner Sean Collins Appointed Commander of the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency

Date Posted: Friday, May 21, 2021

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United States Air Force Brigadier General Sean Collins, a nurse practitioner at the UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence and assistant professor at the UMass Medical School, has once again been called to active duty in Washington, DC.  He’s serving an important role as Commander of the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency.

Brig. Gen. Collins will provide consultative leadership to more than 44,000 personnel, 76 military treatment facilities and oversee a $6 billion budget.  The Air Force Medical Readiness Agency is responsible for the support and execution of medical readiness programs, expeditionary medical capabilities, and the direct support and implementation of policy, plans and programs for health care operations of the Air Force Medical Service.

“For nearly 30 years, I served in the U.S. Navy then the U.S. Public Health Service, so I have firsthand insight into the tremendous responsibility carried by General Collins,” said David Harlan, MD, the William and Doris Krupp Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of the UMass Medical School’s Diabetes Center of Excellence.  “He’s a proven leader who steps up to do the right thing, and for the right reasons, whenever and wherever the need arises.  Since such skills, ability, and character are rare and we’ve also recognized them when he cares for diabetes patients here, his elevation to such an important duty in the Air Force is no surprise to us.”

Collins held several leadership positions throughout his distinguished military career.  In 2016 he joined the United States Defense Health Agency with the promotion to Brigadier General.  Most recently, from May 2019 through April 2020, he served at the Pentagon as Air National Guard Assistant to the Air Force Deputy Surgeon General.  He then spent three months in Washington at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In between, he continues to treat patients as a nurse practitioner on the adult diabetes care team at the UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence. 

“He considers this to be his medical home and we are very proud of him,” said Samir Malkani, MD, Clinical Chief, Division of Endocrinology & Diabetes, UMass Memorial Health and UMass Chan Medical School.  “Even while he’s away on these important missions, he checks in regularly with friends and colleagues at UMass Memorial Health and always remains available to us.  The Air Force could not have a more capable leader.”

Collins earned his master’s degree from the UMass Medical School followed by a post master’s certificate as an adult nurse practitioner from the UMass Medical Graduate School of Nursing. 

After his first overseas deployment as a medical team leader during the Kosovo crisis, Collins was ready to continue his education with a PhD in nursing.  His first day of class for the doctoral program was on September 11, 2001.  Subsequently, he was called to active duty and didn’t earn his PhD until 2009.

In the years between he completed several deployments with his Air National Guard unit.  He served in Iraq in 2004 where he worked alongside health care providers from around the world in the emergency room of the Air Force Hospital, caring for locals and members of all military branches. During deployments to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2011, Collins witnessed numerous combat injuries and casualties.

His leadership skills have been called upon locally as well.  Earlier this year, Collins was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, MA.

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