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The Making of a Military Surgeon: Air Force Captain (Dr.) Justin Sleeter’s Journey

Ever wondered what it takes to be a military surgeon working in the Department of Defense's only level-one trauma center? How about the grit and determination needed to navigate the challenging years of graduate medical education and training in the Air Force? Get ready for an inspiring journey, as we welcome Captain Dr. Justin Sleeter, a general surgery chief resident who paints a vivid picture of his path to becoming a surgeon. We hear firsthand insights into his decision-making process for choosing between the Health Professions Scholarship Program and the Uniformed Services University and understand his unwavering commitment to safeguarding the health and well-being of our military personnel.




From his struggles of getting into the Air Force Academy to his exhilarating experiences in the trauma bay, Justin pulls back the curtains on the realities of being a military doctor. Discover the high-stakes intensity of a level one trauma center, where every second counts, and the ability to multitask and triage patients quickly can mean the difference between life and death. Get a taste of the responsibility and the pressure that comes with being part of the trauma team.


But there's more to Justin's story than just the adrenaline rush of trauma surgery. Gain insights into his role as a chief resident, the rigors of his daily routine, and the role of academics in a military training program. Hear about the immense satisfaction he finds in challenging trauma operations and caring for patients with high-caliber rifle injuries. Plus, for those considering a career in military general surgery, Justin shares his hard-earned wisdom and practical advice. Join us and get a unique perspective on the life and times of a military surgeon, making this a must-listen episode for anyone interested in military medicine.

Prepare to be enlightened, educated, and inspired.


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Chapters:

(0:00:00) – Pathway to a Military Physician

(0:07:02) – The Process to Becoming a Military Surgeon

(0:16:44) - Surgical Chief Resident Role and Military Training

(0:22:39) - Military Surgery Challenges and Rewards



Chapter Summaries:

(0:00:00) – Pathway to a Military Physician

We are joined by Captain Dr. Justin Sleeter, a general surgery chief resident at the Department of Defense's only level-one trauma center. Justin shares his journey to becoming a surgeon, including his experience of not getting into the Air Force Academy on his first try due to a medical disqualification and the process of applying to medical school as a cadet. He also explains how he decided between the Health Professions Scholarship Program and the Uniformed Services University and why he chose the University of Southern California Keck School. Join us on WarDocs to learn more about Captain Sleeter's path in Air Force Medicine and his thoughts on the importance of training for future deployments.


(0:07:02) – The Process to Becoming a Military Surgeon

Captain Dr. Justin Sleeter, a general surgery chief resident at the Department of Defense's only level one trauma center, takes us through his journey of becoming a surgeon, what it was like his first year as an intern, and what it's like to be the Surgeon of the Day in a level-one trauma center. We learn the importance of multitasking, triaging sick and not sick patients, and the pressure of being part of the trauma team caring for severely injured patients.


(0:16:44) - Surgical Chief Resident Role and Military Training

Captain Dr. Justin Sleeter shares his experience as a chief resident in the trauma bay at the Department of Defense's only level-one trauma center. He talks about the responsibilities he has, the autonomy he is given, and how he prepares for surgical operations with his staff. Justin also shares what his typical day looks like and the importance of participating in academics while in a military training program.


(0:22:39) - Military Surgery Challenges and Rewards

Justin shares his experience of transitioning from a third-year to a fourth-year resident at the Department of Defense's only level-one trauma center. Justin talks about what makes trauma exploratory laparotomies and trauma vascular cases enjoyable and challenging. He also sheds light on the complexity and variability of taking care of a patient with a high-caliber rifle injury, from the start of care all the way to the months thereafter. Finally, Justin offers his advice for those interested in pursuing a career in military general surgery.


Take Home Messages:

1. Pursuing a career in military medicine can be challenging but rewarding, and requires a deep commitment to the well-being of military personnel.

2. Being a surgeon in a level one trauma center demands the ability to multitask, triage patients quickly, and make critical decisions under immense pressure.

3. The role of a chief resident is not just a position, but a testament to one's skills, perseverance, and dedication in the face of the complexities of military medicine.

4. A military surgeon's role involves a variety of tasks, from prepping for surgical procedures to managing the daily intricacies of their routine.

5. Transitioning from a third-year resident to a fourth year in a trauma center presents its own unique challenges and rewards.

6. Military general surgery is a rigorous field, but can provide a fulfilling career path for those interested in it.

7. A surgeon's journey from applicant to chief resident is one filled with resilience, determination, and a constant learning process.

8. Military medicine offers the opportunity to make significant contributions to the health and well-being of those in the armed forces.

9. Gaining firsthand insights into the decision-making process of a military medical professional can provide invaluable guidance for those considering a similar career path.

10. Military surgeons play a crucial role in trauma centers, making critical decisions and managing multiple tasks simultaneously to provide the best possible care for their patients.


Episode Keywords:

Military Medicine, Air Force Medicine, Health Professions Scholarship Program, Uniformed Services University, Level-One Trauma Center, General Surgery Chief Resident, Multitasking, Triaging Patients, First Line of Defense, Autonomy, Surgical Operations, Academics, Trauma Exploratory Laparotomies, Trauma Vascular Cases, High Caliber Rifle Injury, Military General Surgery


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