Sunday, July 18, 2010

Greetings from COT

For the past 3 weeks (and the next 2) I have been at Commissioned Officer Training at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, AL. The experience has been a challenging, yet fun and eye opening experience to the commitment I have made as an Air Force professional.

The first week was a tough transition from our lives as civilians to that of the military. We had early morning drill practices where we learned how to march around in formation. We had the Blue Line ceremony where we symbolically "crossed into the blue" to reaffirm our commitment to the nation. We got used to waking up at 4:30 for physical training and learned how to dress an act the part of an Air Force officer.

We've had extensive classroom hours covering everything from military history, military law, leadership techniques, problem solving strategies, and team building. We've also had fun outdoor leadership activities like Project X, the Assault Course, and WELPS (I don't even remember what this acronym stands for). I've really had a blast getting to know my flight mates (16 officers/flight) and our flight commander.

On Monday we have our second graded test. This one comprises the 26 testable lessons we had LAST WEEK! Tuesday we'll get up and take the Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) to determine if we meet AF fitness standards. Also on Tuesday we have a short military briefing to present to the class. Wednesday and Thursday mornings will be spent doing the Leadership Reaction Course which, like Project X, will test our individual leadership skills as we navigate an obstacle course with members of our flight under time constraints. Should be fun and a real challenge! Next Sunday we'll head out of the dorms to a near by camp site for three days of Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) training. The purpose being to give us a taste of what a deployment would be like. It will encompass, amongst other activities, setting up a combat hospital and a high ropes course that will undoubtedly test our nerves.

While I'm having fun with my flight and enjoying the challenges of COT, I miss my wife incredibly and can't wait to be back home with her in less than 2 weeks. This experience has also shown me how strong she is and how much she really is a part of me. Like Sarah Miller would say, "mi media naranja." (my half orange)

Hopefully, when I get back I can put up some pictures and maybe some of these ramblings will make more sense. Keep us in your prayers!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Life Update

So, I haven't exactly been what you'd call a faithful blogger (as my nearly a dozen followers would certainly agree), but since I have an evening free I thought I would update my blog.

Katie is currently in Oklahoma shooting a wedding with our good friend Stancy Higley of Stancy Higley Photographie. (check out the logo...yeah Katie made that!) Katie continues to discover new talents and I am very impressed and proud of her undertakings. Check out Katie's own website to see some of her work.

Meanwhile, I have completed my first year of medical school! It was a challenging year, but I made it through and had a lot of fun being married, making new friends, and starting my medical education.

Katie and I with our good friends the McCord's and the Rondeau's at the Roaring '20s themed formal called Cadaver Ball. We had a blast and got to teach my classmates how to "Superman".

Katie and I went to Madrid in March to visit Sarah Miller. Next to our honeymoon, it was the best week of the last year!

We had a blast hanging out with Sarah's novio (boyfriend) Sergio. He was an excellent ambassador for Spain. They gave us the insider's tour of Madrid and we can't wait to go back and see them!

Currently, I'm halfway through a family medicine preceptorship here in College Station. The experience has been better than I even imagined. Working with patients again has been a refreshing reminder of why I wanted to become a doctor in the first place! Additionally, the physician that I am working with is an excellent teacher and makes sure that I am getting a well rounded experience and LOTS of hands on training.

In just over two weeks I leave for Commissioned Officer Training in Montgomery, Alabama. The course lasts five weeks and will be long days filled with classroom work, leadership training, and daily fitness excercises. The most difficult thing will be being apart from Katie for so long. I anticipate that time will pass quickly as we'll be very busy and Katie and I are long distance pros from our dating days.

Katie starts a full time job in August with Central Baptist Church as the administrative assistant to the preschool minister. Her job duties will include designing various mailouts and invitations as well as event planning. We are very excited about this blessing and, as always, are in amazement at God's provision for us!

I'll close this lengthy post with some pictures from our honeymoon in Cancun last July.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ben and Katie in Haiti

Our friends, Ben and Katie, are in Haiti. They were called from their comfortable, newly-wed lives in Dallas, TX to go to the impoverished, island country and serve the people there by teaching in a Christian school. They have been there for about 2 weeks.

You can see what they have been up to by reading their blog.
A post or two reveals that even though they have heard His call and are trusting the Lord daily, they have at times wondered, "What have we gotten ourselves into?" and "Why are we here?"
Yesterday, the largest earthquake in the past 200 years struck Haiti, with an epicenter just 10 miles outside the city they are living in. While we have had no direct contact with our friends, we have heard through the grapevine, that they are safe and unhurt. However, many of the children at their school have still not heard from their parents. With death toll estimates reaching into the thousands, some may not see their parents again.
B and K,
I truly admire yall's courage to step boldly to where you have been called by the Lord. While it may not be the only way He uses you while in Haiti, I am awestruck by His foresight to put you in the lives of those children in their time of great need.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yep, Air Force...

As my lovely wife just pointed out on her blog, we have been considering the Air Force Health Professionals Scholarship Program and, in fact, are a good ways through the application process. Since I've never been the gung ho military type, some of y'all may be wondering why we have decided to take this path. Below is a somewhat rambling explanation of our thoughts regarding this decision. Enjoy:

1) Katie and I love to travel and this is by far the best (and most affordable) way to see the country and the world while we're young. We'll have the opportunity to live overseas as well as participate in humanitarian projects that we wouldn't be able to otherwise if I was in a civilian practice.

2) Starting my medical career in the Air Force assures a ready, compliant patient base for me to serve without the additional constraints of civilian practices. Specifically, I won't have to worry about my patients' ability to pay for a treatment, or deal with pressure from hospital administrators or other docs in my practice to sacrifice quality of care to ensure profits.

3) In addition to paying for medical school (tuition and fees), and receiving a monthly stipend, the pay upon graduation is very comparable and in many instances better than that of civilian practice. Air Force residency programs pay roughly $20,000 more than civilian residencies and then include housing and food stipends, and health, dental, and malpractice insurance provided and it's not even close. Upon completing residency (when my payback time would officially start), the comparability of pay is very much dependent on specialty. If I end up going into Family Medicine (which is my current and strongest inclination), the salary is almost identical (not including the above mentioned perks as well). If I were going into a more specialized field, the salary disparity is much greater.

4) One of our Clinical Skills instructors who is a family doc in the area and served in the Navy after completing medical school said he figured he would have a debt of money or a debt of time upon finishing school. The time he could payback in a one year-to-one year ratio, however, a financial debt would linger with him for 10-20 years. Being debt free will allow Katie and I to meet financial goals we have set earlier and focus on various humanitarian projects etc. that we wish to accomplish with financial blessings that come our way.

5) The opportunity to serve those who have served and are serving our country in the military is an unbelievably humbling prospect and one that I will cherish and give 100% if selected.

Now there are, of course, potential drawbacks that have been mulled over, weighed, and prayed about.

1) Getting placed somewhere we don't want to go. This is unlikely, but is a possiblity. After completing residency, we will get to choose our top 8 bases to be stationed. Again, what specialty I am in will affect this as the Air Force has different needs in different areas, but everywhere is in need of family physicians. From the top 8, most folks get one of their top two. Additionally, how often do you really have the autonomy to choose where you will live and practice? No matter what your job is, or what you are studying, you have to go where the job/school is located. This is just a fact of life.

2) Deployment is a reality, and as an Air Force doctor, I could be deployed a maximum of 4 months at a time. However, following a deployment, I can't be deployed again for 18 months. In a three or four year payback, this is a maximum of one to two deployments. Additionally, a deployment could just as likely be to a hurricane damaged region as to a forward operating base. Again, the Air Force isn't normally on the front lines of conflicts. They're the guys that fly in and drop bombs, without a ground presence like the Army or being water bound like the Navy.

It's important to note, as well, that any deployment wouldn't be required of me until I've completed my residency training (i.e. at least 6-7 years from now).

OK that was pretty long and I'm sure I've left some stuff out and did not articulate all of it well, but hopefully that brings anyone out there wondering up to speed. Don't worry, we'll keep you posted!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

24 hrs.

"You should be compensated well when you're a doctor, considering you have to give up your twenties to become one."

I've heard the above statement more than a few times since starting medical school. And I rebuke it.

It's very true that because of the intense academic undertaking involved with becoming a physician I spend a lot of time in lecture, labs, and, of course, studying. In residency, I will be working 80+ hours per week and working on some form of call schedule for years after that. Yet I refuse to believe that I am somehow conceding an entire decade of my life to the pursuit of the medical profession.

Here's my rationale (in somewhat rambling fashion):

Going to medical school or working a full time job doesn't decrease the number of hours in the day does it? Everyday still has the requisite 24 hours in it. That's the same now as it was when I was in undergraduate, or working in Dallas, and I have a pretty good feeling that's how things will stay in the future. Therefore, it is my responsibility to use the 24 hours I'm given each day to the best of my abilities. Matt Chandler, the pastor at the Village Church, marveled in one of his sermons about how we love to tell everyone how busy we are. It's so true. Watch, the next time you ask a friend you haven't seen in a while how things are going they will undoubtedly tell you how busy they are within the first three sentences of their reply.

But what are we filling up our days (and therefore our lives) with that is making us so busy? Historically for me it has usually been the wasted time that clogs up my weeks and prevents me from being the husband, student, friend, etc. that I have the potential to be. Hours I spent watching TV, farting around on the computer, or recovering from a particularly rowdy evening, could have been hours spent growing in a community or as an individual in any number of ways including, but not limited to spritually, academically, and physically.

I'm not saying that TV, the internet, and drinking are evil by any means. In fact, I've done all three of those activities with good friends as a form of communal bonding. However, it's a heart change that is required to keep those things from becoming life consuming, detrimental, and destructive behaviors and put them in there proper moderate contexts.

Motivating myself to break the chains of apathy and seize each day as a brand new, 24 hour gift gives me the freedom to achieve my potential. I think that my best is what my God, my wife, my friends, my family, and I deserve from me. It takes a daily rededication, and there will always be peaks and valleys, but when I'm able to do this, I don't see how I am letting a single second slip by, let alone a whole decade.

Now enough blogging...My bride is about to get off work!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

an incredible gift

As medical students, we have an amazing opportunity that only one half of one percent of people in this country have. In our educational pursuits, it is imperative that we learn the anatomy and inner-workings of the human body completely and entirely so that we can become knowledgeable and capable physicians. In order to do this, it is requisite that someone gives us an incredible gift...their body.

From day one, our professors impressed upon us the gravity and responsibility that comes with taking on a cadaver in our educational pursuits. There are times, there have been already, when the trials of medical school (namely Biochemistry) detract and distract us from why we are here in the first place. It only takes a moment with our cadaver to remember our goal.

By their choice, our donors have granted us the opportunity to learn first-hand the complexities, structure, and unique aspects of the most amazing creation on this planet, while demonstrating the beneficence that we hope to embody as future physicians. Physicians willing to put the needs of others ahead of their own.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

study break

After a marathon night of studying at Starbucks, while Katie worked her first night shift, we got up relatively early Saturday morning and headed to Austin for the day.

I say relatively early because I'm finding out now that I wake up next to a beautiful woman every morning, it's a lot harder to get out of bed at the first alarm's beckoning.

We did all the Austin things namely hit up Kerby Lane Cafe, walked around UT (and decided that Baylor's campus is better!), took an invigorating dip in the Barton Springs pool, and finished the whole day off with dinner and drinks with our good friends, the Bexley's.

We came back the next day, and admittedly I was a little stressed about the mountain of information I still needed to cover before Thursday, but after a couple of days of focussing on the books, I can say with confidence that it was a much needed and well deserved break from the rigmarole of life in Bryan, TX.