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U.S. Air Force: Lt Col Paul Gleason, Physician


I decided I wanted to be in the Air Force
very early in my life. My father was an Air Force physician, my godfather was an
Air Force physician, and for as long as I can remember that’s all I’ve wanted to do. I really like working with my hands, solving problems with it. Surgery was the
avenue of medicine that most appealed to that but I’ve always been strongly
attracted to biology, science, it kind of fits my personality. I applied to the Air
Force Academy out of high school. Once I got accepted then the path was set. The
Academy did an excellent job of preparing me. Most of the classes I took
for upper level biology mirrored what I took in the first two years of medical
school and being able to get into a structured environment, so when I did get
to medical school and it was me generating my own schedule and making
sure I got the class on time, I think it was probably the biggest benefit. And
then from the Academy, I got into the Uniform Services University of Health
Sciences in the DC area. I first realized the caliber of
education that you get in the Air Force when I was in medical school, especially
the third and fourth years as we were out on our rotation, you got to interact
with residents and medical students who trained elsewhere, who went to school
elsewhere and as I told people in my family and people who were interested in
medicine at that time, I couldn’t be prouder and happier in my education as
an orthopedic surgeon. I would take my classmates and myself over some of the
bigger institutions in the United States as far as skill level and
knowledge level. Being a physician in the Air Force of patient care is always
number one. The worries about how to go about paying for something, how to go
about obtaining either supplies or medications for the patient’s very
limited, if present at all. When I’m talking to my junior partners who’ve
just come into the Air Force, I tell them that being an Air Force orthopedic
surgeon is going to be the best time of their life. You have plenty of time to get your practice established, you have plenty of
time to develop yourself as an orthopedic surgeon, but most importantly
you have plenty of time to get to know your family again. A lot of times we lose
sight of that when we’re in our residency we’re working day-in day-out,
18 hours a day sometimes, we’re on call every other night, and we don’t get to
see our family as much in that four or five years we’re in training. The first
couple years out of your practice, you’ve got that opportunity to get that
connection reestablished with your family and that’s probably one of the
biggest things I tell my partners. So the best parts about being an Air Force
physician are the patients we get to treat. You get to talk with people who’ve
been in the military since World War II, Korea, Vietnam and to hear their stories
and to hear the heritage of where I’m at right now is, just you can’t get that on
the outside as a civilian physician. I’m very proud. I’ve had a couple of
opportunities to be deployed and operate on our service members in a deployed
environment, saving lives, saving limbs and it gets you. I’m Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Gleason. I’m an orthopedic hand surgeon in the
United States Air Force and I’m from an Air Force family, so I’m from everywhere.

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