Central PA Medicine Fall 2017 - 7

daup h i n c m s  .o
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a sense of obligation that transcended civilian
potential. It was then, early in medical school,
that I understood what it meant to hear the
call of duty.

The time that I have spent in the Medical provider support. Others responded here in
Detachment has helped broaden my perception Pennsylvania to help ensure the Pope's safety
of patient care. As a fledgling medical student, as he visited Philadelphia in 2015. Even now,
I had largely focused on the rudiments of the Pennsylvania National Guard is responding
diagnosis and treatment. Hypertension, di- to domestic calls for aid as physician assistants
During my first year in medical school I abetes, and COPD were conditions that my volunteer for hurricane relief task forces around
began the application process to join the Army civilian colleagues and I had begun to grow the country.
National Guard. Although the application used to. But as I began to interview soldiers
process was extensive, I was fortunate enough with officer preceptors, I was often challenged
While there are many opportunities to
to eventually commission as a second lieutenant. with patients I had never considered before.
serve in the armed forces, being a uniformed
The first time donning the Army uniform came
physician also broaches many challenges. The
almost as a relief - I was finally following the
For example, one day we were seeing dozens Reserves and National Guard offers its soldiers
footsteps of the brave men and women who of candidates for sniper school. They each had the balance of military and civilian experiences.
gave me that first deep feeling of patriotism spotless medical records and were at the peak However, maintaining this balance often
so many years ago.
of their physical fitness. This challenged me to requires significant sacrifice. Physicians and
expand my analytical and empathetic thinking other healthcare professionals are particularly
Since commissioning, I have proudly spent beyond civilian concerns. What must a sniper challenged with busy civilian lives in addition
the past two years serving in a Medical De- candidate's fears and aspirations be? What to their patriotic responsibilities.
tachment as part of the Pennsylvania Army should I be concerned for in such a patient?
National Guard. Although I was new to the How can I do more to ensure this individual's
As a senior medical student, I have already
armed forces, my unit accepted me uncondi- good health in such extreme conditions?
experienced some of the obstacles that Army
tionally as part of their Army family. It was
providers face. What little time I have away
clear since my very first weekend in uniform
Exercising critical thinking within the from clinics, wards, and studies is often claimed
that there was a special culture in the Army. A National Guard has enhanced my capacity to by mandatory drill weekends. Residents are
culture that fostered respect and brotherhood help civilian patients, as well. This is because even more strained, as they frequently devote
among every soldier, regardless of their rank the National Guard, like the Army Reserves, half of their monthly time off or more to serve
or specialty.
is composed of citizen-soldiers. We meet as their military obligations. It quickly becomes
soldiers for drill one weekend a month and difficult to attend weddings and social events.
While many Army units only include a few two additional weeks per year. However, the We miss opportunities to catch up with friends.
medical personnel, the majority of soldiers in rest of the year we carry on civilian lives. This Providers who may already have precious little
the Medical Detachment are healthcare workers. gives me the opportunity to take the lessons I time with their families are routinely separated
I always look forward to my drill weekends as I learn through Army medicine and apply them for days at a time for drill and training. Even
work alongside physicians, dentists, physician to the civilian world. Although I certainly more so, there is always the possibility to be
assistants, and nurses. Together we provide see fewer sniper candidates in an outpatient deployed abroad for several months or more.
essential healthcare in maintaining the Army's clinic than I do during a drill weekend, the
readiness to respond to danger and disaster. This thought process remains similarly important:
Untimely deployments or time spent away
includes regularly screening service members In addition to their chief complaint, what must from friends and family are sacrifices that
for acute and chronic diseases. We also follow this patient's fears and aspirations be? What soldiers are expected to make. Each of these
injured service members and ensure that they should I be concerned for in this patient? And sacrifices are occupational hazards we accept,
make a quick and full recovery.
how can I do more to further ensure her or however. We recognize that each inconvenience
his well-being?
and risk that the Army poses is to protect an
Month in and month out, the work that
even greater purpose: the well-being of our
Army physicians face is daunting. There are
The National Guard has the unique role of troops and national security.
often long days, as a handful of providers responding to both domestic and international
are tasked with examining dozens of soldiers. needs. This gives us the ability to serve our
I have cherished my time as a civilian
Many of the soldiers may be preparing for local communities during emergencies within medical student thus far. Although it's been
international deployment or a grueling military the state, and it also offers us the opportunity hard work, my medical school has prepared
school. Regardless of the work's volume or to deploy to other nations. Even during my me to join the ranks of physicians as we serve
circumstances, the Army's medical services short time in the medical detachment, I our patients. But as an American who hears
constantly strive to maintain a compassionate have seen uniformed providers accept a wide the resounding call of duty, I'm just as eager
environment where a patient's health comes first. variety of missions. Many of my uniformed to join the ranks of uniformed physicians as
colleagues have deployed to hostile districts we serve our country.
of the Middle East with units that needed
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Central PA Medicine Fall 2017

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