Remarkable Women: State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte

Local News

In 2019, 29 percent of senior management roles were held by women world-wide, the most ever on record. This is according to Catalyst Inc., a global nonprofit that works to bring women into leadership.

Thanks to remarkable women like our State Health Officer more-and-more women are moving up the food chain. Tonight we introduce you to Mylynn Tufte.

Tufte serves as the senior adviser and chief spokesperson on medical and public health issues for all of North Dakota.

But she didn’t always work in the Capitol building

She’s originally from Michigan and she began her career as a critical care nurse, and was an RN for over 10 years.

“I took care of patients that might have had cancer, may have had pulmonary issues…so individuals that were at a very critical time of their life,” Tufte shared.

Then, she realized just how valuable her bedside manner was, and truly getting to know and care for patients.

“One of the things I learned as an intensive care unit nurse is…we were implementing an electronic medical record, and I thought, ‘whoever designed this, they have no idea about what happens at the bedside,'” she laughed.

So she went to grad school, in order to take her experience over to the business and management side of things. and in 2005, she and her husband, now-Supreme Court Justice Jerod Tufte, moved back to his home state, and now hers, here in North Dakota.

“His mom and dad knew each other since they were five, and ended up marrying. They had 11 kids in their class…so that’s a great North Dakota story,” she added.

Mylynn Tufte took her seat as State Health Officer for the North Dakota Department of Health in 2017. She says her position is typically held by a physician.

“There have been other women, not a lot, but other women that have been in this position, and I think maybe one other nurse. I think being a nurse in this role has been helpful because we have partnerships with all the local public health units, and at the core of local public health, are nurses,” Tufte explained.

Now she spends the majority of her days in meetings.

It’s all about coming up with solutions, especially in times of crisis and mandatory preparation, like now, with the ever-spreading Coronavirus.

“We have been leading the incident command from a health standpoint, so we have an all-hazards plan. The last time the team told me they dusted this off and really dug in was around the H1N1 virus,” she shared.

She says her Department is ready now, and always stays ready.

Over the course of her career, Tufte has worked in 26 different states but says there’s nothing that compares to the vast sunflower fields in North Dakota.

Tufte says one of the big reasons she took this position was the Governor’s introduction of the Main Street Initiative. It focuses on improving rural resources, and that includes 21st century, improved access to healthcare.

Second to the Coronavirus, Tufte says rural access to health services is the most pressing need in the state.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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