Captain Christian Rathke serves as the director of the NESDIS Total Worker Health Program, which aims to protect the physical and mental health of the workforce and advance their well-being by creating a healthier approach to work.He was commissioned in December 2011 in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service after serving for seven years in the U.S. Navy.
He began his medical career as a National Health Service Corps scholar and medical provider as a site director of a new community health center in Fredonia, Arizona. He was later also elected president of the town’s chamber of commerce during that assignment. As the town’s only full-time “doc,” he treated all aspects of health for his patients and served as the primary consultant to the mayor for public health concerns. He then practiced medicine for five years at Naval Hospital Pensacola in Florida, specializing in cardiology. Captain Rathke is also an aerospace physiologist, a dive medical officer, and an educator. He’s trained over 3,000 pilots and aircrew in high-risk operational environments. As a subject matter expert in flight physiology and hypoxia, he also served as an instructor for the U.S. Navy Flight Surgeon Course and a collaborative researcher and instructor for the U.S. Army’s Air Warrior aircrew ensemble. Through the U.S. Public Health Service, he has been trained in public health crisis management and has been deployed to respond to public health emergencies.
All four of his U.S. Public Health Service officer assignments have been with NOAA. His prior NOAA position was with the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. There, he served all of NOAA as the director of the Office of Health Services. He headed five medical programs including aviation medicine, behavioral health, dive medicine, marine medicine, and NOAA Corps medical affairs.
Captain Rathke has received the Department of Commerce Gold Medal, NOAA Corps Meritorious Service Medal, NOAA Administrator’s Award (3), U.S. Public Health Service Outstanding Service Medal and Commendation Medal, U.S. Navy Commendation Medal, U.S. Army Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, and Humanitarian Service Medal. He is also a distinguished fellow in the American Academy of Physician Assistants, fellow in the Academy of Physician Assistants in Psychiatry, and member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
He earned a bachelor's in biology from Bridgewater College in 1998, a Master’s of Medical Science with a concentration in physician assistant studies from the Yale University School of Medicine in 2000, and a Doctor of Medical Science degree from the University of Lynchburg in 2021.