I’ve worn many different hats in the medical field. I’ve been an emergency medicine physician and served in the Navy, and I am currently the medical director of a fire and rescue service. But if you asked me to pick the most intense and fulfilling role, I would easily choose my time spent with the Army Reserve Medical Corps.
Although I’ve lent my expertise to a variety of efforts, my goals are always the same: Give back to the community, and help those in need. With the ARMC, I achieved these goals simultaneously.
Working with the ARMC
A few years ago, an ARMC recruiter called and asked me to join because of my previous military experience and medical qualifications. My first thoughts were of my time in the Navy: I had come away with nothing but fond memories. I was in good health, I had a supportive family, and I wanted to use my medical knowledge to give back to others. I had no doubt this was the path for me.
The ARMC gave me another opportunity to try a different field on the medical career path: traveling service. In the past four years, I’ve accepted deployments to Iraq, Guatemala, and Kuwait. Each presented different medical challenges, including trying weather conditions, endemic illnesses, and varied customs.
How I Knew It Was the Right Choice
When working abroad with the ARMC, I realized my purpose and the need for skilled physicians. On a quiet night during my service in Mosul, Iraq, I received a radio message about a U.S. soldier coming to us. Because of the injuries, I thought, “Shouldn’t that go to a trauma center?”
I realized that the general surgeon, orthopedist, anesthesiologist, and I were the trauma center. Stateside, there are urban trauma centers with ample resources for trauma victims, but in Iraq, there are few. A small number of excellent nurses and medics rose to the occasion that night alongside us, attempting difficult resuscitations on the victim. No one had second thoughts.
After deployment, physicians, medics, and nurses who have served within the Corps return with valuable skills that are indispensable. They adjust easily to fast-paced civilian environments and work well under pressure. Along with the valuable skills I developed through service, I gained deep personal fulfillment by helping others.
Explore Your Medical Career
To pursue your adventurous, altruistic side through the Corps, you need to complete the application process and prepare. Here is a list of things you can do to prepare:
- Talk your decision over with your family. Your service will require a dedicated effort from your spouse and children.
- Talk with your employer or partners. Plan as far ahead as possible.
- Get in shape! Work out with people who are much younger than you to prepare yourself to serve alongside the youngest recruits.
- Provide your medical license, personal information, certificates, and transcripts.
- Maintain communication with the recruiter who will contact you to lead you through the follow-up.
Working with the ARMC provides opportunities to work all over the world for shorter periods of time than typical military deployments. I did meaningful work that helped men and women serving our country, practiced what I loved, and had experiences I couldn’t get anywhere else. It was easily the most fulfilling role of my career, and it’s not out of any physician’s reach.
Cary Pigman is a residency-trained and board-certified emergency medicine physician practicing at Florida Hospital in Sebring, Fla. Pigman began his medical career as a doctor in the U.S. Navy, and in 2010, he was commissioned a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, and he is a member of the Army Reserve Medical Corps. Pigman was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2012.