In July 2014, 10 students from the Army and Air Force formed the inaugural class of the Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program (EMDP2), a 24-month program for highly qualified enlisted service members interested in a career as a military doctor. Prior to joining the program, members of the group served in a variety of capacities, including air-traffic controller, laboratory technician, Special Forces medic and other military occupations. Although they come from many different walks of life, they share an eagerness to apply their experiences as soldiers and airmen to the practice of medicine.
Later in the year, the Secretary of the Navy authorized Navy and Marine Corps enlisted service members to join their Air Force and Army colleagues for an opportunity to prepare for future careers as uniformed physicians. The addition of sailors and Marines in the years to come will make the program a fully joint endeavor.
Participants will draw on “their talent and experience gained during the past decade,” said USU President Dr. Charles Rice. “This effort is putting their leadership and experience to work at the next level.”
Candidates attend school full-time at George Mason University-Prince William campus in Manassas, Virginia to prepare them to apply to medical school while remaining on active duty. Besides classroom coursework, students in EMDP2 receive structured advice, formal Medical College Admission Test preparation, dedicated faculty and peer mentoring at USU, and integrated clinical exposure. Students who successfully complete the program will qualify to apply for admission to USU and other U.S. medical schools.Retired U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Althea Green Dixon, director of the EMDP2 program, doesn’t mince words. “The program is intense. Only the very best will make the cut, but I know we have a large pool of talented enlisted folks to choose from,” she said.
Dixon knows many enlisted members’ stories. She spent 30 years in military units, working alongside thousands of talented commissioned and noncommissioned troops.
“The EMDP2 program is something military leaders have talked about for a long time. The enlisted community is full of bright, talented service members who have a lot to offer. We want to leverage their abilities in the Military Health System, so they can take care of our wounded troops. But, we have to get them into medical school first,” she said. “USU is giving enlisted service members the tools they need to qualify. As a result, I believe the entire military will benefit.”
The inclusion of enlisted military professions in medical preparatory programs such as EMDP2 ensures military medicine will better reflect the faces of America’s service members and its citizens.