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Military doctors serve vital role

By Staff | May 29, 2009

While we were both bone-tired and sipping bad coffee from foam cups in a military tent during a dust storm, I had the pleasure of speaking to a military doctor about some of his experiences here in Iraq and why he joined the military.

He was quick to tell me that military medical professionals find a deeper meaning in medicine. He said that could mean leading medical relief efforts virtually anywhere in the world. He shared some of his experiences while caring for victims for everything from sickness to combat, disease to poverty, and hurricanes to tsunamis.

Countless medical, dental, nursing and medical specialists have found an ideal way to apply practical skills and enjoy extraordinary experiences via military health care careers. Of course, military medical professionals are also responsible for the overall health of service members and their families.

They stand ready to apply their skills to any situation and in any environment. From family practice to endocrinology to forensic pathology, you’ll find military medical professionals at the forefront.

For physicians, dentists, nurses, and specialists, the military is a great place to distinguish themselves. By serving in the military they can define themselves and be a part of something far bigger than the title they hold.

Those in the business of saving and improving lives are motivated by more than monetary gains. Still, what the military offers these professionals is well worth factoring into their career equations.

For example, whether caring for those who fight for freedom or pushing the boundaries of research, these professionals work in an environment with no malpractice insurance, no business or equipment expenses, and no funding concerns.

The doctor that I spoke to that morning was clearly proud of the quality of the care he and his fellow military medical professionals provide. Many work in tents connected by a plywood corridor while UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters are landing just a few dozen feet away.

He also told me that military medical professionals face many challenges, including quality control on medications, allocation of supplies, developing a standard medical history form and recruiting new doctors and nurses.

Still, he said that that he loves his career as a military doctor. While he could make far more money outside of the military, every night he sees service members who have made far greater sacrifices. He has no complaints.

I told him that I’m looking forward to my next checkup with my civilian doctor, Jeffrey Kellogg, when I return home to Shepherdstown next week.

– Tom Maiden lives in Shepherdstown with his wife and four children. He is currently serving in Iraq. When not serving as a “Citizen Sailor,” Tom works part time teaching insurance and financial planning at Shepherd University and owns a financial planning practice in Shepherdstown.