The U.S. Public Health Service: An Interview with Dr. William Leach

Dr. William Leach is the owner of a comprehensive private addiction medicine practice in North Florida. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Florida in 1977. From 1980 to 1983, Dr. William Leach served as a commissioned officer for the U.S. Public Health Service.

Q: What is the U.S. Public Health Service?

A: It is a service that helps to provide health care to underprivileged communities throughout the U.S., for example to prisoners and to Native American groups. The commissioned corps is made up of more than 6,500 fully trained doctors posted all over the U.S.

Q: What were you doing during your time with the corps?

A: I was the Chief Medical Officer and Acting Commissioner for a hospital in interior Alaska, as well as for the native population. In the corps, I held the rank of Lieutenant Commander. I had to adapt everything I had learned to suit bush medicine conditions, and I received the Presidential Special Services Award for my efforts there.

Q: What sort of preparation did it give you for your future career?

A: Being a part of the commissioned corps really makes you feel as if you are making a difference. I learned a diverse range of skills, and I gained a lot of leadership experience. I also worked as a teacher and mentor for students, nurses and natives in the bush villages and dealt with a few emergency situations. I learned a lot from my time in the corps.