By David VergunDecember 17, 2014
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 17, 2014) -- Enlisted Soldiers from any military occupational specialty with a bachelor's degree in any field can apply to the Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program.
The deadline for submitting the application package is Jan. 23, 2015. As a number of documents need to be submitted, officials suggest not delaying. All of the information for applying can be found in Military Personnel message 14-326.
Members of the inaugural class and coordinator of the Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program, or EMDP2, Dr. Arthur Kellermann, participated in a media roundtable, Dec. 17.
EMDP2 allows Soldiers to remain on active duty while undergoing two years of preparatory coursework at George Mason University, in Virginia. The courses enable the students to meet the requirements for application to medical school and pass the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, Kellermann said.
The goal, he said, is completing the two-year prep, passing the MCAT, attending and graduating medical school and the follow-on residency requirements, and returning to active duty as an officer in the medical field.
Kellermann, who is also the dean of the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, said EMDP2 is a partnership between the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and all of the military services. George Mason just happens to be the school that was selected for the inaugural class of 10 students, who have just completed their first semester.
The Army and the other services are investing a lot in the program, so only the most highly motivated and academically promising Service members are selected, he said.
Enlisted Soldiers "have often been some of our most extraordinary students," in terms of "individual achievements, he said. And, "they bring a maturity and a perspective and a commitment and a level of professionalism in real-world experience to their classes that make the whole academic experience more worthwhile for everyone."
Some of the most highly acclaimed alumni began as enlisted Service members, "but they've been few and far between," he continued.
The reason so few make it is because they are juggling family responsibilities with deployments and finding the time to study is an "enormous hurdle," he explained. That's why this program was created.
So far, the first class is doing "extremely well," he said, with a class average of 3.9 on a scale of 4.
Three Soldiers in the inaugural class shared their EMDP2 experiences.
Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Richter has been in Army special operations unit for 13 years.
"I've seen sides of combat that are not pretty," he said.
He wants to devote the remainder of his life to "preserving life and healing." He called it an "overwhelming drive."
Asked how difficult it is transitioning from special ops to school, he replied that the "education mindset takes a few weeks to adjust to, but it's still a lot easier than being shot at."
Unlike Richter, who has no medical training, Sgt. Steve Capen, has spent five years in the Army working as a squad leader at a medical company at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. His unit's mission is first-responder for homeland security.
Capen agreed that a transition from soldiering to academia is a "shock to the system," but "you soon to settle into the routine." He added that since they're on active duty, they still take physical fitness tests and wear their uniforms to school sometimes, and maintain their professional demeanor.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Johnson has also worked in the medical field at research labs. He said the 10 Service members click and called them "a dream team with dream coaches." By that, he means they study together and their coaches are the faculty members who give them tremendous support.
Kellermann said he expects the program to gather steam and grow to 20 or 25 next year or soon after.
While he encouraged Soldiers to apply to this program, he emphasized that if they don't make the cut, not to get discouraged. There are other scholarship programs available with financial aid incentives.
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