Degree program provides Soldiers opportunities in medical fields

By Staff Sgt. Dustin Biven, Army News ServiceJune 15, 2023

Graduates of Uniformed Service University’s Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program class of 2023 perform the commissioned officer's oath of office. The EMDP2 offers enlisted Soldiers the opportunity to transition to a medical career...
Graduates of Uniformed Service University’s Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program class of 2023 perform the commissioned officer's oath of office. The EMDP2 offers enlisted Soldiers the opportunity to transition to a medical career field and earn a commission. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photos) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON — The Uniformed Service University’s Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program class of 2023 recently graduated and commissioned 25 enlisted service members who completed the first phase of a career in the medical field.

The EMDP2 is a unique program that the Bethesda, Maryland school offers to enlisted service members, giving them the opportunity to transition to a career in the medical field after completing a two-year, full-time education program.

The initiative is designed to provide active-duty service members with the academic and professional skills necessary to gain acceptance into medical school. EMDP2 is open to all enlisted service members who have earned at least a high school diploma or equivalent, and who have earned a bachelor’s degree. The program is highly competitive with a limited number of slots available each year.

Participants in the program receive a full-time salary, medical and dental benefits and are allowed to continue their military service while participating in the program. The program also covers the cost of tuition, books and supplies. Additionally, participants receive academic support and mentoring from experienced medical professionals.

Many service members may have desired to become a doctor but did not have the means or opportunity to pursue that dream. The EMDP2 program provides a path for service members to achieve that goal and make a meaningful impact in the medical field.

"I first heard about the program during a two-week advanced medical refresher course in early 2020," said Army 2nd Lt. Travis Clinton, an EMDP2 graduate. "It was briefed as a way to continue our understanding and education within the medical field. I had never heard of it before then. I had looked it up back at my hotel room and found that I met every prerequisite, so I pursued applying."

Clinton, formerly Sgt. 1st Class Clinton, served as a Special Forces Medical Sergeant with the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Liberty, North Carolina as the battalion medical station senior non-commissioned officer.

"To apply to medical school, you need certain prerequisites, and it's not just a bachelor's degree," said Clinton. "You are required to have the hard sciences, and with my operational tempo, it was impossible for me to do these courses. I was either deploying or going to school, and I couldn't make the time to do it. This program literally gave me two years of just school as my only job."

The program is designed to provide an academic curriculum that prepares participants for the rigors of medical school. Participants take courses in biology, chemistry, physics, as well as courses in medical ethics, health care policy, and other relevant topics.

Participants also receive hands-on clinical experience, working alongside medical professionals in a variety of settings: physician shadowing, mentoring by physicians and medical students and pre-health advising.

For Army 2nd Lt. GyuRi Lee, also a recent graduate from EMDP2, the chance to participate in the program took more than five years to become a reality. Upon graduation from the program, Clinton and Lee traded their non-commissioned officer stripes for golden second lieutenant bars, commissioning into the Army as junior medical officers.

"I had applied for the program twice before being accepted," said Lee. "The first time I applied, I didn't have enough time left on my contract; you must have at least 36 months left. The second time I was actually placed on an alternate list, so I was close to getting in, but it just didn't happen."

Though Lee was denied admission twice into the program, she never let the rejections discourage her from continuing to pursue her goal.

"I was actually towards the end of my contract and was about to get out of the military," said Lee. "I applied one last time before getting out and was surprised to find out that I got into the program. If not for this program, I would have had to pursue a different, more difficult route to get to where I am today. But with this program, not only does it alleviate a lot of the financial restraints because they have you stay on active duty during the program, but it also allows me to speak to mentors who have been in my shoes and can offer advice and guidance." "

Lee also spoke about the support she received from her mentors while applying and pursuing admission into the EMDP2 program.

"I was in the logistics field before being accepted into the program," Lee said. "I was a driver for some amazing officers who became mentors of mine. Officers like Col. [Nkemakonam] Okpokwasili, Brig. Gen. [Gene] Meredith and retired Gen. [Robert] Abrams all had a common trait; they sincerely cared about looking after and caring for Soldiers. I knew I shared that with them, and they encouraged me to pursue a path that allowed me to do just that: care for Soldiers."

Following the footprints of the officers before her, Lee continues to place Soldiers first and care for them in the best way possible.

The EMDP2 program has offered enlisted service members a two-year structured path toward commissioning as a medical officer since 2014 and is continuing to accept applicants.

"Anyone who wants to go to medical school and begin that journey, know that you can," said Lee. "You do not have to be the smartest or quickest learner, just don't give up. Don't be discouraged if your path takes longer than others; it took me five years and three attempts. The common thread I have seen from those who have succeeded is that they never gave up. So, if you want it, apply and never give up."

The Army provides practical, hands-on training and support that cultivates skills and interests, and sets Soldiers on a path for long-term success in the Army and beyond.


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