SAUSHEC graduation ceremony celebrates 261 residents, fellows

By Lori NewmanJune 12, 2023

SAUSHEC graduation ceremony final step for 261 residents, fellows
U.S. Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Madushani Belt receives her graduation certificate from Air Force Maj. Gen. John DeGoes, U.S. Air Force Deputy Surgeon General, Army Brig. Gen. Deydre Teyhen, Brooke Army Medical Center commanding general, Air Force Col. Kristen Beals, 59th Medical Wing vice commander, and Dr. Mark True, San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium dean, during a ceremony at the Lila Cockrell Theatre in San Antonio, Texas, June 8, 2023. The graduation ceremony honored 261 residents and fellows from 57 diverse physician and allied health specialty programs. (DoD photo by Jason W. Edwards) (Photo Credit: Jason W. Edwards) VIEW ORIGINAL

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, June 12, 2023 – The San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium celebrated military medical professionals during a graduation ceremony June 8 at the Lila Cockrell Theatre in downtown San Antonio.

The ceremony honored 261 residents and fellows from 57 diverse physician and allied health specialty programs. SAUSHEC is the organization responsible for military graduate medical education and graduate allied health education in San Antonio with two major training sites at Brooke Army Medical Center and the 59th Medical Wing.

"It’s been a long road,” said Dr. Mark True, SAUSHEC dean. “If you count all the way back to kindergarten, your training years total up to 24 to 28 years of education bringing you to this point in your lives.”

True reminded the graduates that they are ready for independent practice.

“You are now the authority for the care you provide to your patients,” he said. “With this authority comes great responsibility, and we know you will rise excellently to this occasion. Our patients deserve the best … we are proud to present them our best – that’s you!”

The dean praised the instructors for their efforts. “I would also like to acknowledge that our graduates would not be able to walk across this stage this morning without the tireless efforts of our program directors and our faculty, and also our program coordinators.”

True told the graduates that their instructors would continue to guide and support them as they move forward in their careers. His advice was to “stay connected and never stop learning.”

The keynote speaker for the event was U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. John DeGoes, the Deputy Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force.

DeGoes praised the faculty for their efforts and stressed the importance of having mentors to turn to for help throughout their military medical career.

“As you enter staff practice, have enough confidence to not be afraid to ask for help,” DeGoes said. “But don’t have too much that you don’t know if you ever need a second opinion. Either extreme may lead to preventable problems.”

The general touted SAUSHEC and the San Antonio area as a key training location for military medical training.

“Your San Antonio military health system is the center of gravity and a key enabler to our national defense strategy through its role of supporting world-class health education,” DeGoes said.

“I am convinced there is no better training environment in the Department of Defense,” he added. “From my vantage point the future of military graduate health education remains bright.”

DeGoes touched on the roles of the Defense Health Agency and the individual services, as well as the challenges that lay ahead.

“From an Air Force perspective, at the headquarters level, we are working closely with the DHA to ensure our medical treatment facilities have the healthcare resources to meet their local installation mission and produce ready medics and medical ready Airmen for any future contingencies,” he assured them.

DeGoes noted that no matter what the future holds, “the commitment to excellence” will not change.

He advised the graduates to “be humble, approachable and credible, and continually learning leaders.”

DeGoes concluded by thanking them for accepting the challenge to be military medical professionals and for all they will do for those they serve. “With your SAUSHEC training, I know you have the right stuff to deliver excellent care and make successful all the missions you will medically support.”

Along with the graduation certificates, five Commander's Awards for Research, two Housestaff Hall of Fame awards, and eight merit awards were presented during the ceremony (see list below).

Pediatric resident Air Force Capt. Madushani Belt said she is grateful for the opportunities that she has received. The Louisiana native came to the United States from Sri Lanka when she was 2 ½ years old.

“My parents were refugees,” she explained. “They received asylum because of the civil war going on there. I’m very thankful for that and for all the opportunities that I have been given.”

Belt believes the training she received at BAMC has set her up for success.

“I have been able to have a bunch of interactions with the different sub-specialties and hear different people’s perspectives on how to manage a patient,” she explained. “Something that we have been doing in our pediatric program specifically is incorporating an operational mindset -- like discussing how we could care for this patient if we were in a remote setting or what would we do if this were in a deployment type of setting.”

Belt said she is excited about her next assignment as a pediatric flight surgeon with the 673rd Operational Medical Readiness Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.

“It’s such a blessing to go to such a unique location and having a career with the Air Force,” she said. “My position is actually operational pediatrics, which means that I’m filling a flight surgeon billet. It’s a pretty non-traditional way to complete a pediatric residency.”

“I’m really looking forward to being able to actually get out and fly,” Belt said.

The SAUSHEC graduation award recipients include:

Commander’s Research Award Graduate Allied Health Education (GAHE):

Lt. Commander Rebecca Rausa, General Surgery Physician’s Assistant

Commander’s Research Award Quality Improvement Patient Safety (QIPS):

Air Force Capt. Joshua Luster, Neurology

Air Force Capt. Dakota Tomasini, Pediatrics

Commander’s Research Award for Primary Care (Resident):

Air Force Capt. Andrew Moulton- 3rd Place, Pediatrics

Air Force Capt. William Hoffman- 2nd Place, Neurology

Army Capt. Michael Povlow- 1st Place, Radiology

Commander’s Research Award for Surgical (Resident):

Army Capt. Justin Harris- 3rd Place, Ophthalmology

Air Force Capt. Justin Sleeter- 2nd Place, General Surgery

Army Capt. R. Connor Chick- 1st Place, General Surgery

Commander’s Research Award for Animal/Basic Science:

Air Force Capt. Kyle Stigall, General Surgery

Commander’s Research Award for Clinical (Fellow):

Air Force Capt. Zahari Tchopev- 3rd Place, Sleep Medicine

Air Force Maj. Daniel Cybulski- 2nd Place, Infectious Disease

Air Force Maj. Adam Kruse- 1st Place, Emergency Medical Services

Housestaff Hall of Fame Resident:

Army Maj. Philip M. Kemp Bohan- General Surgery

Housestaff Hall of Fame Fellow:

Army Maj. Mary Ford- Infectious Disease

Merit Awards

Army Maj. John H. Gillespie Outstanding GME Intern:

Air Force Capt. Rachel Tindal, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Army Maj. David S. Berry Outstanding GME Resident:

Air Force Capt. William Hoffman, Neurology

Air Force Col. Donald M. Null Outstanding GME Fellow:

Army Maj. Mary Ford, Infectious Disease

Air Force Col. Woodson Scott Jones Outstanding Junior GAHE Trainee:

Air Force Capt. Samuel Alex, Clinical Psychology (Air Force)

Air Force Col John L. Chitwood Outstanding Senior GAHE Trainee:

Air Force Maj. Jeremy Jinkerson, Clinical Neuropsychology

Ms. Ylda A. Benavides Outstanding Program Coordinator:

Ms. Teresa Fite, Dermatology

Army Col. Gail D. Deyle Outstanding GAHE Program Director:

Air Force Maj. Jared Bueche, Ortho Physical Therapy

Army Col. John D. Roscelli Outstanding GME Program Director:

Air Force Col. Dale Capener, Anesthesiology