TCOM students find their residency homes on Military Match Day

The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine‘s Class of 2024 students who serve in the United States Armed Forces learned their military residency assignments during Military Match Day. Four members of TCOM’s Class of 2024, Joshua Baker, Dylan Jacobsen, Emily Lin, and Ryan White, were matched, with specialties ranging from Operational Emergency Medicine to Family Medicine.

Many TCOM students in the military have families who served before them, but others feel that military service to our country is a calling.

“I know this is something I was born to do,” said Jacobsen, who matched in operational emergency medicine with the U.S. Air Force. “It’s a sacrifice that others have made and one I want to make as well. I’m willing to put my life on the line for this country and what it stands for. I want to be there for people who are putting their lives on the line for us.”

Jacobson and his classmates represent TCOM students who joined the Health Professions Scholarship Program, which offers two-, three- and four-year military scholarships that can help cover civilian medical school tuition. They have also received specialized training that will prepare them to become an officer in the military upon graduation.

“I didn’t have any military background but in undergrad, I saw that you can go to medical school and be a doctor for the military,” said Baker, who will begin his service with the U.S. Navy after training at either a military or civilian hospital. “I picked the Navy because both of my grandfathers served and it will be really nice to know that I’m serving a patient population of those who are giving it all for their country.”

Below are the stories of those TCOM students who will continue their careers in the Armed Forces upon graduation in May.

 

Ensign Joshua Baker, U.S. Navy Ensign Joshua Baker, U.S. Navy

Sometimes finding the right specialty to go into practice for medical students is an agonizing process, but for TCOM’s Joshua Baker, it came before he even got into medical school.

Growing up in Frisco, he worked as a certified nurse assistant in high school taking care of the basic tasks and shadowing various specialties. It was there he saw how rewarding a career in medicine could be and specifically one specialty in particular.

“I saw the doctors who were doing radiology and interventional radiology and that’s what really set me on my path to pursue medicine,” said Baker.

Around the same time, Baker’s best friend joined the military and it was there he learned that he could pursue his passion for radiology, but also be a physician in the military. With two grandfathers who served in the U.S. Navy, choosing a branch wasn’t difficult.

“It’s a rewarding opportunity to care for such a unique patient population who have given their all for their country,” said Baker. “Through my training, it’s just been great. This is a very patriotic group of people who have helped our country through their sacrifice.”

Baker has gone through Office Development School, done rotations at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and prepared for his service. However, Baker’s time in the military could be delayed.

Since there is a need for more radiologists in the Navy than can be trained internally, Baker has been approved for Navy Active Duty Delay for Specialists and will complete his residency at a civilian institution before beginning his service.

Regardless of when or where Baker begins his military service, he’s prepared to help no matter if he’s near a battlefield or in a hospital.

“I have thought about that if the need arises and if I’m selected that interventional radiology has some great tools to address trauma such as hemorrhage that might be encountered in an acute setting,” Baker said.

Upon graduation, Baker will be commissioned as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.

Second Lieutenant Dylan Jacobsen, U.S. Air ForceSecond Lieutenant Dylan Jacobsen, U.S. Air Force

Seminole moments for military service come at different stages for people, for Jacobsen, it came at the age of 10. One of his best friends in elementary school lost his father in Iraq when he was struck by an IED.

“That had a big impact on me and that’s when I started thinking about the military,” said Jacobsen. “I’m still very close with him today, but that experience really pushed me into the position to help people who do the most for this country. I didn’t want other kids to grow up without a Dad, and the opportunities the military has for doctors to be out there as close to the fight as possible so people can make it home is what I want to do.”

Jacobsen grew up in California and Arizona and spent a lot of time in the Boy Scouts, which ingrained the virtue of service in him. After graduating high school, he regrets not joining the military right then, but knew he wasn’t ready.

“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted when I was 18, I was still trying to figure things out,” said Jacobsen.

What he was trying to figure out was his passion for medicine and how he could mold that into the military. After graduating from BYU with a degree in exercise science, Jacobsen arrived at TCOM and discovered the HPSP program.

He chose the Air Force because it offered him a fast track to the front lines. The military has a new Operational Emergency Medicine program, which is a unique opportunity to complete a residency in a civilian emergency medicine program and then be vectored into special operations.

“I think about that moment all the time,” said Jacobsen. “I joined the military for that very reason, to move as far forward as fast as possible and be there for the individuals putting everything on the line because I want those guys to make it home for their families.”

Jacobsen himself has a family, a wife and two young daughters. Pushing himself to the front lines of a potential conflict raises the obvious question, has he thought about the potential dangers and risks he will face?

“It’s definitely tough to think about and have that conversation with your wife and family,” said Jacobsen. “Everyone has been very supportive, but at first it was hard. My wife has a lot of great military service with her grandparents so she understands. Her parents and my parents have been very supportive and that’s been very helpful. I feel good and being right with your family and whatever higher power you associate yourself with, relieves the stress of a potential situation like that.”

Jacobsen matched in Operation Emergency Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University. He will be promoted to Captain in the U.S. Air Force upon graduation.

Ensign Emily LIn, U.S. NavyEnsign Emily LIn, U.S. Navy

The “why” for joining the military and going into medicine for Emily Lin has been simple to explain.

“Remembering my future patient population as either active-duty service members, their dependents, or veterans has been one of my “why’s,” said Lin. “It’s the reason why I challenge myself to continuously strive to aim for new moving targets and seek opportunities that will prepare me to become a Naval physician.”

Pursuing a career in the military is something Lin has been drawn to for quite some time, even before her passion for medicine. Lin has always loved science, hence her dream to become a marine biologist at one point, but in high school, she realized being a physician was her calling.

“When I realized that I wanted to become a physician, I started researching the different pathways in becoming a military physician and went with the Navy HPSP program,” said Lin.

While at Baylor University, Lin’s pre-medical interest group took a tour of TCOM and she was sold on the school and osteopathic medicine. That wasn’t all, Lin has a passion for service and there is no better place for that than the military.

“Service is one of my core values, and I wanted to serve my country,” Lin said.

Since arriving at TCOM, Lin has gone to Officer Development School and completed two family medicine rotations at Military Treatment facilities. Her military service is just now beginning, but long-term Lin could see herself working in another familiar area.

“I’m interested in academic medicine,” said Lin. “There’s also a couple of fellowships that I would be interested in pursuing as well. It’s difficult to say if I will stay involved in the military after my active service obligation since the fellowship numbers vary every year depending on the need of the Navy.”

Lin matched in one year of FTIS internship training in Family Medicine at Naval Hospital Jacksonville. She will be promoted to Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy upon graduation.

Second Lieutenant Ryan White, U.S. Air Force Second Lieutenant Ryan White, U.S. Air Force

At 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds, Ryan White is built like a power forward – it comes as no surprise that’s the position he played in basketball at Plano High School and then for one season at Southern Virginia University. Following an injury, White spent the next two years overseas as a missionary in Germany. It was there he forged his passion for service and medicine.

While in Germany, he was mentored by one of the first-ever recipients of the HPSP Scholarships, a Vietnam War veteran who was nearly 80 years old, but was also a neonatologist.

“He knew that I wanted to go to medical school and was putting a bug in my ear,” said White. “He had kids during medical school and he and his wife told me about the amazing experiences they had. I had always wanted to be in the military, and after talking to him I was able to merge these two passions.”

White returned from overseas, finished up his education at Utah State University, and got married, but still needed to get into medical school. He was working at a research lab at UT Southwestern and their Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine while applying to medical schools across the nation.

It wasn’t long until White discovered TCOM and all it had to offer.

“The more I learned about TCOM, the more I said to myself ‘Wow, this is a hidden gem of a school,’” he said. “It had a great reputation and I was really where I wanted to be.”

Things couldn’t have worked out any better for White in the fall of 2019. He received an interview with TCOM, pre-matriculated in November of 2019 and a week later he and his wife celebrated the birth of their first child.

White had his medical school spot, but not his military one. He decided on the Air Force, but had one problem to fix before he could join the military, he was 50 pounds overweight by military standards and had three months to shed those pounds.

“I ran my guts out, decreased my calorie count and portion intake, but made the weight.”

He was commissioned in May of 2020 with the U.S. Air Force and began school at TCOM in July of 2020. White has completed three Officer Training Schools over the past three-plus years, leaving home for up to five weeks at a time. His home has also grown, he and his wife welcomed twins in February of 2022, leaving White little time to rest.

“It’s definitely been crazy, especially when I’ve been gone on active tours for rotations,” said White. “It’s been challenging, but it’s given us a chance to get to know and experience what military life will be like. Balancing your service on top of medical school, it’s been an adjustment, but we know this is what we have wanted to do. I have always wanted to serve my country and it’s a small sacrifice to make.”

White is interested in one of the Air Force’s newest specializations, the Critical Care Air Transport Team.

When U.S. service members are critically ill or severely injured, it is the mission of CCATT to get them aboard the aircraft and move them thousands of miles – while delivering a high level of medical care in flight to return them home for full-time care.

A CCATT is a highly specialized and uniquely skilled three-person medical team that augments standard aeromedical evacuation crew members and turns an aircraft into a flying intensive care unit.

“It’s an ICU in the sky,” said White. “It is really interesting what they do. I’m not sure yet if that’s what I want to do, but we are definitely open to it.”

White, like his classmates, is aware of the risks that come with wearing the uniform and being near the front lines as an emergency physician.

“I knew going into this whole experience that if called upon, it’s part of the responsibility and honor of wearing the uniform,” said White.

White matched in Emergency Medicine at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. He will be promoted to Captain in the U.S. Air Force upon graduation.

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