By Ms. Suzanne Ovel (Army Medicine)June 30, 2016
Unlike many Madigan residents, Capt. (Dr.) Quinton Hatch took a more roundabout route to becoming a doctor. The lankly surgeon, who started off as a high school student without much direction, joined the Marines as an infantryman before getting out and earning his undergraduate degree in microbiology.
While he left service before 9-11, once his buddies started to deploy he solidified his plans to become a doctor and meanwhile signed up to be an Army Reserve medic.
"To be honest, to become an Army doctor was the reason I became a doctor in the first place," Hatch said.
The captain explained that he specifically got on this career path to be in a position to take care of service members when they got wounded in battle.
"Ultimately what I found in going through the process is that I really like being a doctor in general… (but) at baseline that's, still why I'm here," he said. "That's why I've always been here."
On June 10, Hatch was one of 112 residents from 34 medical programs at Madigan who walked across the stage at the Health Care Professionals Graduation Ceremony to emerge as credentialed providers. Col. Michael Place, Madigan commander, spoke to the graduates about what it means to be an Army doctor.
"Many of you within the next few years are going to go off to dark, cold, usually wet places, and you are going to be that ray of hope," Place said. "Graduate today, celebrate today, but understand why we wear the uniform, and why we're asked to do what you volunteered to do."
That mission is very personal for Hatch, who called his most memorable time
in residency taking care of combat-wounded Soldiers.
"That was the most personally rewarding thing I did while I was here," he said.
Other highlights of his six years as a resident here include caring for a young pediatric patient with a complicated diagnosis and surgery and being able to check in with him repeatedly throughout the night to provide care and comfort. In fact, the focus of taking care of people is one of the things Hatch likes best about being a doctor.
"I like being in a position, when they're hurting in the middle of the night, to be able to go and say, 'I can take care of this for you,' and actually do it," Hatch said.
His own experiences helping his wife live with a chronic illness led him to consider the patient experience as a surgeon, so Hatch learned to take the extra time to explain to patients what care he is providing and why.
In fact, this lesson in compassion resonated with other recent graduates as well.
"I think one of the biggest things I actually learned was probably compassion and empathy," said Capt. (Dr.) Alicia Scribner, an obstetrics and gynecology doctor who also graduated this year. "It's important to be a good physician, to have a solid knowledge base and have good surgical skills but, at the end of the day, I think it's important to not lose sight of why you're working so hard, that you're actually there taking care of patients."
She's cared for patients who came to her sick and distressed -- who came in concerned that masses might be cancerous, who were embarrassed to talk about incontinence, who couldn't be intimate with their spouses due to pain.
"It's really about that human interaction… and being able to deal with those delicate situations, and having compassion and empathy for them," she said.
During her residency, Scribner also found herself on the receiving end of that compassion from her fellow residents. Last year, her husband was diagnosed with stage three lymphoma.
"He went from a perfectly healthy person to within a couple of weeks having this diagnosis and it was terrifying," she said. "We hadn't even gone through our wedding photos yet."
Despite their own strenuous schedules, her fellow residents volunteered to take her night shifts, staff members provided her with care packages, and family medicine residents even provided her husband with care before he later transferred to Seattle.
"They all jumped in and helped me out and I just couldn't be more thankful to them for doing that," Scribner said, whose husband is now in remission. "They allowed me to take the time that I needed to take care of him, and I was very, very grateful for that."
While she plans to continue to work at Madigan as a credentialed doctor, Scribner's own path to getting here was just as unique as Hatch's. Although her undergraduate degree focused on biology and chemistry, Scribner took a couple of years off before getting her master's in public health.
That landed her at a hospital in Oakland, Calif., running an HIV screening program. She found inspiration working with an emergency department doctor who helped with the program while also providing one-on-one care to patients.
"I think I really craved that hands-on working with people," Scribner said.
Now that she's graduated from four years of residency, Scribner is excited to begin practicing medicine independently.
"I really want to make a difference," she said. "I think that's what drew me to medicine."