This is the second in a series of articles in which we interview the members of Next Generation Combat Medic (NGCM).  See the first article in the series (here), in which we introduced the men who make up the organization, talked about NGCM, and delved into its mission to teach civilians how to save lives in mass shooting events, and any other situation in which victims suffer from uncontrolled bleeding.  Our interview continues below.

SOFREP:  As a combat veteran who has transitioned to the civilian medical world, what are the challenges and opportunities you face?  How are veterans contributing to civilian medicine?

Dominic Thompson:  Although I have not transitioned from active duty to civilian life, I’ve seen several friends who have done that transition be very successful and some not so much. Some of the contributing factors that I’ve personally experienced with friends transitioning was that they weren’t fully prepared when the time came.  I have also seen it were they did have all the right tools to make the transition, however, they weren’t mentally prepared for such a change when it came to daily structure of the civilian sector.

Veterans contribute to civilian medicine all the time.  Myself and five others run the largest pre-hospital Free Online Access to Medical Education (FOAMed) platform on social media.  We discuss everything from up-and-coming changes to military medicine, disease and non-battle injuries (DNBI), and trauma scenarios and case studies that a medic may see while in an austere environment.  Many of our followers are in the civilian population that provide a significant amount of feedback and insight to our community of 35,000-plus followers.

Max Dodge:  The biggest hurdle I see for military medics transitioning over to civilian healthcare is the need for certification, licensure, and credentialing.  While we are the masters of battlefield trauma, we don’t learn a lot about the rest of healthcare.  There are a lot of ways to become sick when you aren’t an 18 to 30-year old physically fit person.  I’ve seen a lot of integration of military and civilian medicine in the last decade.  Veterans are playing a big role as they transition into law enforcement and other public service roles.

Andy Fisher:  The idea of the “Dysfunctional Veteran” does nothing except create more differences and issues with the civilian population.  Many of these veterans were the same that complained daily about how awful it was to serve in the military and could not wait to get out of the military.  We can improvise and adapt to multiple situations in combat, but somehow struggle in our integration with fellow Americans.  Veterans need to use those similar mechanisms and adapt to civilian life.

The only challenge I faced was self-induced.  I came off of active duty recovering from a traumatic brain injury [TBI], and started medical school three weeks later.  This was not a smart plan. However, I made this decision seven months prior and had my fall in Afghanistan three months before starting medical school.  As my TBI cleared, and with great support from my wife, things got better and now I have no issues.  I would say, give yourself some downtime when leaving active duty. 

Three days after I interviewed at Texas A&M College of Medicine, I received a call from the admissions office.  It was one of the Deans asking me if I wanted a seat in the 2020 class.  I immediately said yes and turned down every other interview offer.  Texas A&M University has a strong military history and I feel right at home.  The Texas A&M College of Medicine embraces the military and me.  I am extremely fortunate to have been offered such a fantastic opportunity.