In 1969 the MEDEX Program was founded as a means to bring highly trained returning military veterans into the US workforce. The war in Vietnam had produced skilled medics and corpsmen, individuals experienced in delivery life-saving medical care to fellow soldiers under the most harrowing conditions of battle. But without the proper credentials of a medical school, all remained underutilized upon their return home. By 1974, MEDEX dropped its restriction on admitting only ex-military medical personnel. Men and women with civilian medical backgrounds were admitted into PA programs. Today, MEDEX Northwest remains true to its military roots with nearly 30% of its students coming from some branch of service.

Explore the experiences of men and women from a military background that found their civilian career path through MEDEX.

MEDEX & the Military

MEDEX, the Military and Becoming a PA

MEDEX Northwest and the United States Armed Forces are tied at the hip historically, and it’s a relationship that continues to this day. In recognition of Veteran’s Day 2021, we invited students from among the current MEDEX classes, students who bring military experience with them into the classroom and clinical rotations, to share some thoughts on the connections between their military service and their decisions to become PAs and healthcare providers. This gathering of voices is one way to recognize and celebrate this essential ingredient of the MEDEX Northwest mix.  

November 10, 2021 / MEDEX Stories Veterans
Mark Patterson, PA

MEDEX Remembers PA Mark Patterson

We remember Mark Alan Patterson (September 11, 1941-October 9, 2021), MEDEX Seattle Class 1 alumnus, pioneering PA, and longtime friend of the MEDEX family.

October 27, 2021 / MEDEX Stories Veterans
Steven Turnipseed, PA-C Veterans Award

Driven By Inspiration

Since 2016, the Steven Turnipseed, PA-C Veterans Award has been given to MEDEX graduates in recognition of their service to country, class and community. Two of this year’s recipients, Robin Morris of Anchorage Class 10 and Coty Holm of Spokane Class 22, speak about what (and who) motivated them to become PAs, their lives in the service, and what’s next for them as they begin their new journeys as full-fledged PAs.

November 11, 2020 / MEDEX Stories Veterans
Lena Redkina, PA-C

Without Them, I Wouldn’t Be Here

After thirteen years in the US Navy and reserves as a medical corpsman, Lena Redkina of MEDEX Seattle Class 50 was sworn in as a lieutenant junior grade at the completion of her PA studies. Now, she’s off on a duty assignment to Japan with the 3rd Marine Logistics Group. Looking back, she’s clear that mentoring by those who went before her made all the difference in her successful career transition.

November 13, 2018 / Veterans
Coty Holm and Anna Zakharova

A Venerable Legacy of Veterans as PAs

In 1969 MEDEX Northwest was founded in order to facilitate trained military veterans into civilian healthcare. Today this goal remains as important as ever with 19% of the 2018 incoming class representing veterans. Two of these individuals—Coty Holm and Anna Zakharova—tell the stories about their path to becoming a PA.

August 8, 2018 / Veterans
Paul Hastings

Knowing What Right Looks Like

Paul Hastings of MEDEX Seattle Class 51 spent over seven and a half years in the US Army as a Special Forces combat diver and medic. His time in Afghanistan and throughout Asia has prepared him for this new chapter, a transition from the “sticks and rags” medicine of war to civilian medicine.

November 9, 2017 / Veterans
Andrew Merrick

Running Towards The Problem

Andrew Merrick spent four years in the US Navy in damage control aboard the destroyer Spruance DD963. Essentially a firefighter, he was able to parlay the first responder aspect of that duty into the civilian world upon discharge. Now Andrew is a didactic year student in MEDEX Anchorage Class 8, deepening his skills at the service of small town Alaska.

November 9, 2016 / Veterans
Al Noriega

It Makes You Really, Truly Love Medicine

With a combined experience of 13 years as a US Navy corpsman, Al Noriega developed a civilian career as medical examiner investigator. His military medical training informed this second career, but the stressors of that job carried an expiration date. Now, at age 47, Al is embarking on his third career as a physician assistant. He has a particular passion: to see his future patients leave with a full understanding of their own role in their healthcare.

July 12, 2016 / Veterans
Doug Aguirre

A Lot of Veterans Just Have It

A Special Forces medic for 9 years, Doug Aguirre embodies the qualities common to many veterans enrolled in the MEDEX physician assistant program: modest, experienced, capable and accustomed to functioning in all sorts of challenging conditions. Soon to start his clinical year at MEDEX, Doug talks about his path to PA school and where he sees himself ending up once he graduates in 2017.

June 9, 2016 / Veterans
James Chally, Seattle Class 49

A Dedication To Our Country And Our Profession

James Chally, a member of MEDEX Seattle Class 49, has been honored yet again for his hard work and service both as an Army medic and as a MEDEX student. Chosen earlier in the school year as a Pat Tillman Scholar, and more recently given a UW Husky 100 Award, Chally has just received the SSgt. Craig Ivory Memorial Scholarship/ Veterans Caucus Scholarship from the Veterans Caucus of the American Association of Physician Assistants (AAPA).

May 24, 2016 / Veterans
Amber Huynh

It’s Just So Cool

During four years of service as an Army Healthcare Specialist, Amber Huynh performed tasks that ranged from mundane to unusual. Whatever the job was, she had the guidance of PAs to count on each step of the way. Now, she looks forward to being the knowledgeable professional she once looked up to.

March 15, 2016 / Veterans
Lamont Scott

Doing Your Job Well

Lamont Scott — MEDEX Seattle Class 49

Before the year’s end, we ran into Lamont Scott taking a break just outside of MEDEX Northwest’s Seattle classroom, which is located in the University of Washington’s Magnuson Health Sciences Center. Lamont is one of nine members of MEDEX Seattle Class 49 who bring military-based medical experience with them to that classroom and the yearlong didactic phase of their physician assistant training. And it’s our interest in that background that leads us to sit and chat a bit.

“Going back to school, it’s a different life,” Lamont admits. “Plus, it’s civilian life, which is a lot different in terms of how you interact with people, what you’re expected to do, and stuff like that. But it’s exciting and it’s new. I enjoy it.”

Sgt. Lamont Scott, of Waipahu, Hawaii, foreground, confirms his M-4 rifle’s accuracy along with several dozen additional Soldiers from the Hawaii Army Guard’s 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team at Kandahar Airfield’s small arms rifle range. Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka

Lamont was born in California, and raised in Hawaii from the age of five. Though he had no previous medical experience to speak of, Lamont entered the Army intent upon becoming a medic. “My biggest influence was my family,” he explains. “My mom was a adult residential care home operator and nurse aide, and my dad, once he finally got out of the military, he went into the medical field as well. So those are my biggest influences. When the recruiter came to my house, my mom was like, ‘He’s going to join the Army, and he’s going to be a medic, and that’s it, or he’s not signing.’” He laughs. “It was a good choice on her part.”
Lamont graduated from medic school at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio on August 11, 2004, and was mobilized to deploy five days later, on August 16 of that same year.
“That first deployment, I was the medic for FOB (Forward Operating Base) security, at SPOD, the Shuaiba Seaport of Debarkation in Kuwait. We secured the base, making sure nobody came in, and I was the medic for the security team. It was mostly clinic work. So I was doing a lot of sick calls. That’s where I got a lot of my clinical experience. Sick calls, getting down techniques on ortho exams, stuff like that. I had a lot of exposure to that.”

Lamont Scott, second from left, pictured in Kuwait at the SPOD during his first deployment.

“My second deployment was 2008 to 2009. I was the medic for security forces, for convoy security forces. It could be transporting top brass, or just a logistical run, where we would bring supplies from Kuwait and go up into Iraq and deliver them to the different bases. I think when we tallied it up, it was over 30,000 miles we had traveled. Tiring, long 14-hour days, every day. Every day.”
Lamont’s third deployment was to Afghanistan as a medic accompanying a security force assistance team, tasked with advising and assisting Afghan security forces in various areas. “Interacting with my Afghan counterparts face-to-face helped add a new perspective and depth to my military career and abilities up to that point,” he says.
We next asked him to reflect on his 12 years as an Army medic.
“Well, the main thing that kept me sane, honestly – because you do see some of your friends get hurt, and some of them don’t make it back, you know – but the main thing that helped keep me sane were my friends, and the camaraderie that you get on deployment. You get to learn intimate details about people as their medic, but that’s just a part of your bonding. There is one point where they stop calling you ‘medic,’ and they call you ‘doc,’ and that’s the fulfilling part, doing your job well and taking care of your guys.”
Lamont discontinued his active duty status in 2013, and officially left the National Guard last October 2015, some two months after joining his classmates in Seattle. “Going back to school was a very hard decision,” he admits. “I was a little apprehensive at first, coming back to graduate school and getting into that mode again. And I have a wife and a son that I have to think about. So just the logistics of getting over here from Hawaii, that was really a challenge.

Lamont Scott’s second deployment before pushing out on mission.

“But, honestly,” he continues, “it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I really enjoy coming to school every day. You learn something new every day and you’re busting your brain to make sure you remember all of this stuff. But, at the end of the day, you’re like, ‘Wow, this is really happening, right now’.”
As for where he sees himself after graduation and certification?
“Well, I try to keep an open mind because we haven’t done our clinicals yet. But right now, I see myself working in an urban or a suburban clinic, just doing adult medicine, or family practice, just staying in the community, helping out with that, watching my patients grow and transition. I’d like to be there for them.”
He pauses a moment, then adds “And, hopefully, I can focus more on helping veterans, because that’s the community that I’d like to help the most, my fellow veterans.”
And with that, Lamont Scott rejoins his Seattle Class 49 mates in the MEDEX classroom, back to working their way together through the didactic phase of their physician assistant training. Or, as Lamont might put it, back to busting their brains.

January 1, 2016 / Veterans
Mike Grennan

Beyond Treat ‘em and Street ’em

After years of experience as a Navy Corpsman and Lieutenant/Paramedic, Mike Grennan rejected the notion of retirement in favor of becoming a civilian physician assistant. Admitted to the MEDEX program with class 48, Mike’s plans were interrupted by an Afghanistan deployment. Today, Mike is a proud member of Seattle 49, and the most senior student of the class.

December 21, 2015 / Veterans

The Next Mission: MEDEX & the Military

This video follows four current day PA students as they transition from medically trained military personnel during the time of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, to their new careers as civilian physician assistants. In contrast, we hear origin stories of the profession from three members of MEDEX Class 1 (1969), who all came to this new occupation after service during the Vietnam War. Each generation describes the role the military played in shaping their career in medicine, and how the PA profession answered that call. Running time 31 minutes, color, HD format

May 19, 2015 / Veterans