The Forefront of Medicine: Life as an Army Physician

On October 16, I attended an event presented by the United States Army “The Forefront of Medicine: Life as an Army Physician” where a pediatric ophthalmologist, Maj James D Bowsher told us about his experiences as a doctor in the military.

The reason I was interested in the presentation is that I want to be a dentist, but dental school is not cheap, so I was looking for options as a freshman how I could reduce my graduate school expenses. One day I read about the HSPS scholarship that the Army, Navy and also the Air Force offers for people who are considering joining the military as a health professional. I read about this scholarship more and more, and on October 16 while I was walking to class I saw an Army stand that advertised this same exact scholarship. After some consideration, I talked to the recruiter who recommended me to go to this event which was in the evening that day. I also had some questions about ROTC, so I thought it would be a bad idea to miss out on this opportunity.

During the first half of the presentation, they told us about the scholarship in general: It pays for full tuition, books, $2200 monthly stipend, $20000 sign-on bonus, officer’s pay during fall breaks. This all looks good on paper, but I was more interested in the experiences of a current doctor in the Army. In the second half of the presentation a pediatric ophthalmologist, Maj James D Bowsher told us about the pros and cons when joining the military. He also took advantage of this scholarship when he was a sophomore in medical school. After graduation, he had to complete a basic training which he described as “fun” because doctors get less intensive training than real soldiers. Other than waking up early and doing physical training, he mostly played golf and rode his bike. Then he had to do a residency, but thankfully dentists are not required to do that, so my path is going to be a little bit different if I stick to my plan. But what is the working environment like compared to civilian hospitals? The answer is, pretty much the same, except that patients wear camo. One downside that he talked about was that the Army might send doctors to a base where they don’t really want to go, but at least they explore the world while they work as a health professional.

According to Dr. Bowsher, he did not regret his decision to join the Army, and he is still serving today. While giving the presentation, he was enthusiastic, and he seemed to have many positive experiences with the Army. After the presentation, he also taught us suturing techniques, which I thought was a very nice gesture. When the event was over, I felt more confident that I wanted to join the military sooner or later. I’m still not sure what branch I should join, but I’ll probably apply for ROTC in the next few months.

Pay It Forward: 21st Annual Community Commitment

On Saturday, August 25th, 2018 I attended Pay It Forward’s 21st Annual Community Commitment, one of the largest single-day community service events held on a college campus.
First everyone was sent into a big hall where the groups were assigned, then I took a bus with my group to a cat shelter called “Cat Welfare”. I volunteered at an animal shelter called “Noé” in Hungary before, so I already had something to compare it to. I can definitely say that shelters in the United States are much better. In Hungary, the conditions for keeping animals are unacceptable: everything is dirty, the cages are small and dark, and a lot of times there is not enough food to feed every “resident”. In contrast, I have not been to a single animal shelter in America where I could find anything bad, but seeing how many cats end up in shelters breaks my heart. Shelters usually have to take care of hundreds of cats, and most of the time they do not have any space left to take in more animals. This is a big problem that could easily be solved if there was a strict limit on animal breeding.
I was excited when we got to Cat Welfare because I love cats, and I also missed my cat who I could not take with me to college. My cat was adopted from Pet Smart and later my family adopted a dog from another shelter. I already had two cats and two dogs before, but this was the first time they came from a shelter. If anyone is still debating whether adoption is a good option, I can only recommend it. The day we brought our cat home, we could see how happy she was to have a real home. I have the same experience with our dog: When we brought him home and took his collar off, he looked at us for a few seconds, then he started running inside the house and licked everyone who stood in his way. From these experiences, I would not think twice about adoption again.
At Cat Welfare, there were many rooms that served different purposes. There was one big room for the “social cats”, one smaller room for the “shy cats”, another for the kitties, one for the newcomers, and sadly a room for cats with cancer. I liked that we could interact with basically all of the cats, even the anti social ones.
My group was divided into sub groups and were assigned different tasks. My job was to unfold and place newspapers onto a shelf, another group had to trim trees, and the third group packed cat food. When we were done with our tasks, we could play with the cats all morning, but mostly we were asked to play with the “shy cats” so they get used to having people around. I tried to play with them, but it did not work out that well: One of them bit my finger so it started bleeding, but other than that I had a great time volunteering at Cat Welfare, and I would definitely do it again!