Nicole Kerkenbush joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Texas Christian University to earn a physical fitness credit, which the university required. However, she completed the program and eventually earned an officer’s commission. She graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and later earned two masters degrees from the University of Washington – one in nursing and the other in healthcare administration.
Kerkenbush first worked as a nursing performance improvement coordinator at the Darnall Army Community Hospital at Fort Hood in Texas. She then became an ROTC brigade nurse counselor at Fort Lewis in Washington.
Kerkenbush moved to San Antonio, Texas, where she served as the nursing clinical officer in charge of the orthopedic unit at Brooke Army Medical Center. She remained in San Antonio and worked as a chief medical information officer at the Great Plains Regional Medical Command.
During her military career, Kerkenbush held multiple positions at the Office of the Surgeon General. She first worked as a clinical business intelligence division chief. She then worked as the chief medical information officer from June 2010 to May 2013. In this role, she supervised 40 staff members and managed a $45 million annual budget. Finally, she worked as the chief information officer at the OTSG.
Kerkenbush was promoted to colonel in September 2013, and her final assignment in the military was as the deputy program executive officer at the Department of Defense Healthcare Management Systems Program Executive Office in Rosslyn, Virginia. She held this role from May 2014 to July 2016. Kerkenbush retired in September 2016 after 24 years of service. During her career, she was awarded a Defense Superior Service Medal, a Legion of Merit and a Meritorious Service Medal.
After retirement, Kerkenbush first worked as chief performance officer at Regional Health in Rapid City, South Dakota. She later became vice president of data analytics at the same company. Kerkenbush currently works as chief nursing and performance officer at Monument Health, also in Rapid City. She has been in this role since July 2019.
We honor her service.
Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Alexandra Kaiser
Editors: Alexander Reza, Theresa Lyon
Researchers: Raphael Romea, Timothy Georgetti
Graphics: Kiki Kelley