By Christie Vanover
Carl R. Darnall Army
Medical Center public affairs
Four soldiers became physician assistants Jan. 7 when they graduated from the Interservice Physician Assistant Program at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.
Capt. Aaron Lorenson and Capt. Laura Hubbard and newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Matthew Kurman and 2nd Lt. Mark Ortiz completed the two-year program, which earned them a master's degree from the University of Nebraska.
"We have people that are coming from all different backgrounds," said Col. (Dr.) Steven Braverman, medical center commander. "They are coming in order to take advantage of this great training that they have and to try to put that training into practice."
As PAs, the new graduates will provide health care to beneficiaries across the Army, conducting physicals and assessing medical needs under the direction of a licensed physician. They also will help train enlisted medics and may evaluate the medical readiness of individual units.
Capt. Aaron Kidd, the program director for the U.S. Army-Baylor Doctor of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Emergency Medicine Fellowship at the medical center, has served as a physician's assistant for 10 years. As the guest speaker, he offered advice to the new PAs.
"You will be the foundation of the aid station; the beacon of light that shines through. Medics will look toward you for direction and leadership. Never let them down," he said.
Kurman, who was commissioned during the ceremony, served in the Marines for four years and then joined the Army as an infantryman. After deploying to Afghanistan, Kurman joined the medical field as a respiratory therapist and was a sergeant when he started the IPAP program.
He said becoming a PA was a new way to challenge himself.
"As a PA, I can support the soldiers closer to the line," he said.
That combat support is critical, Kidd said.
"Soldiers that leave the safety of our bases abroad, male or female, whether it's to do a combat patrol, clear routes, transport supplies or personnel, or public relations, they do so knowing that if and unfortunately when they get injured, their medic or doc will be there to care for them," he said. "They gain this confidence by your actions, leadership and medical knowledge."
Braverman and Kidd encouraged the graduates to continue learning through their experiences and to reach back to their medical center colleagues, when needed.
"When you feel like you're in over your head, and you're not quite sure, make that phone call back here to the folks who have been your mentors and to the docs or other PAs. You're never out there on an island," Braverman said.
"No matter where you go, your Carl R. Darnall Army family will be here for you," Kidd echoed.
The program includes one year of didactic course work at Fort Sam Houston and one year of clinical training at Fort Hood. To apply for the program, visit www.usarec.army.mil/armypa.