Daniel Martinez decided to become a doctor after seeing medicine in action during his time in the Marine Corps. For Adam Fisher, it was his experience as a medic in the Army. Both have found a home at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston and in a new student group that supports military veterans.
“Representation matters. As such, one of our future goals is to help bridge the gap between veterans and medicine,” said Martinez, a second-year medical student and a student leader in the Veterans in Medicine Student Association (VMSA).
Fisher is also a student leader and a second-year medical student.
“We wanted to set up this organization to help veterans connect with other veterans in order to have a support system,” Fisher said. “We hope that it will be a benefit for all of the veterans at McGovern Medical School.”
The paths taken by veteran students to medical school are as unique as the students themselves.
Martinez, the youngest of nine children, is a first-generation high school graduate and the first in his family to receive a college degree. His service in the Marine Corps was not directly related to medicine, but it did influence his desire to go into the medical field.
“My deployment allowed me to see medicine in action. I wanted to be the source of someone’s hope when it seemed as though their world was falling apart,” Martinez said. “Veterans can reminisce on who they once were, who they became, and everything they gave in service of their country and their peers.”
Fisher worked as a medic in the Army. Initially, this did not lead him into thinking about a career in medicine, until he was deployed to Afghanistan. “It was losing patients that solidified my decision to pursue medicine. I realized that I did not know enough to help them when it was needed. I set my goal to become a doctor in order to be better equipped to help patients in the future,” he said.
Faculty sponsor for the group, Christopher T. Stephens, MD, is currently a Major in the Army Medical Corps. He has spent his military career educating and training combat medics and flight paramedics, which makes him especially qualified to be an active part of the VMSA.
“With so many veterans returning from deployment and looking to go back to school to start their careers, I feel that it is extremely important to have a solid mentorship program with veteran students,” Stephens said. “Veteran students understand what other veterans have been through while serving in the military and how to mentor them in their transition to medical school life.”
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