What person and/or event inspired you to pursue a career in a medical field, and how do you plan on capitalizing on this experience in your field?
Matthew J. Johnson2012 Winner
I am far from the kid I was in high school because my experiences as a United States Marine have transformed me into a mature, focused man determined to succeed in the medical field. I found myself confused in high school over what path I wanted to take. I did not care about anything school related and when it came time for me to decide, it was either college or military. It was an easy decision at the time for I did not set myself up well for college and the military seemed to intrigue me. I anticipated that I would end up skipping classes and with my lack of initiative and discipline, felt I would not put forth the effort into my homework and studies. I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and all of that quickly changed.
Through the Marine Corps, I learned that leaders set the example instead of looking to others. I have learned how to take initiative, have become more disciplined, gained motivation, and mastered personal accountability all in the face of harsh conditions. All of these attributes helped me embody the Marine Corps values of honor, courage and commitment. I have sacrificed many things to serve this country, but I will always be grateful for my time served in the Marine Corps for I prospered into a responsible adult.
While at a unit gathering in late spring of 2010, my Master Sergeant pulled me off to the side to tell me I was leaving the unit for a yearlong deployment to a combat zone in Afghanistan. Captivated by the opportunity, I felt the reality of the memories of my friends who have been hurt and I have lost in the same area and similar areas. The pre-deployment training started soon after I was informed.
My mind was overwhelmed as I went through a “Combat Life Saver” course, which got me thinking, “If I was there with my friends – my brothers – could I have saved them?” While serving in Afghanistan, my goals became clear: I want to be in the medical field. The final six months of my deployment were full of long days and long, sleepless nights conducting research, when time permitted, on the area I want to study and pursue. Having visited our hospital tents on base, I have spoken with Physician Assistants, which brought to light the type of work they perform and their role in the medical field. Life experience led the way: I want to be a Physician Assistant.
I possess qualities, which I believe are necessary for Physician Assistants to have: the ability to communicate with others, empathize with who they are in contact, and relate to people. Becoming a Physician Assistant will allow me the opportunity I desire to care for those in need of medical assistance. I will once more be able to take oath in the military, this time as a medical officer, to serve my brothers-in-arms and offer those who get hurt the opportunity to heal as a Physician Assistant in the emergency department or as a flight surgeon. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
My uncanny ability to think clearly during stressful situations, my decisiveness, the level of maturity I now possess, and the monumental amount of life experience I have gained qualify me to be a great candidate for the Medical Professionals of Tomorrow Scholarship, which will assist me in completing the accelerated Physician Assistant program in which I am currently enrolled.