Enlisted-to-physician program seeks applicants

  • Published
  • By Sharon Holland
  • Uniformed Services University

Laura Barrera was inspired to join the Air Force by her two brothers who both served in the military. After serving several years as an enlisted medic herself, Barrera felt she had been impactful, but she felt her scope of practice was limited and she had a different calling: she wanted to be a doctor.

Barrera discovered that the Uniformed Services University’s Enlisted to Medical School Preparatory Program, or EMDP2, offered her that opportunity. The two-year program provides a pathway for promising enlisted service members interested in a career as a military physician. EMDP2 offers an intensive pre-medical program, mentoring, and MCAT preparation, while also allowing service members to maintain their current rank, pay and benefits while going to school full-time at George Mason University’s Prince William Campus.

“Prior to applying to EMDP2 I was already taking science classes to apply to medical school. I would work a 12-hour shift, then go to class for four hours, rinse and repeat,” said Barrera. “When I heard about this program, I was excited that not only would school be my main focus, but the mentorship that came along with it was a huge bonus. I did not realize the intricacies of medical school applications and the difficulty of the MCAT. I was so grateful this program addressed those two issues. EMDP2 allowed me to be with other military members in the same situation, and we were able to learn from each other, and help each other. Just like one would in medical school.”

Barrera was accepted for the program and entered in late summer of 2015. She successfully completed it two years later, and then applied and was accepted into medical school at USU’s F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine in 2017. She has been very active in a number of student interest groups and initiatives throughout her nearly four years at USU, and plans to pursue Emergency Medicine after she graduates from medical school. She only has a few months left before she receives her M.D. degree and her dream comes to fruition.

The EMDP2 program application window is now open for the next round of aspiring military doctors who will start the program in summer 2021. The program, which began in 2014, is open to Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps enlisted personnel. The charter class consisted of 10 students, and now, beginning its seventh year, there are 50 students across the two enrolled classes. Eight members of the inaugural EMDP2 class have graduated with their M.D. degree from USU’s School of Medicine and these physicians are now engaged in various medical specialty training programs across the Military Health System.

This year, working with its military service partners, the program is transitioning to a new application process. The new application system will standardize the process across the military services, while still allowing for individual service requirements to be met. The selection process is streamlined and will require candidates to submit applications directly to USU, with specific service and command clearances.

“This new system is a hybrid of USU's medical school application process that has been modified specifically for the military population,” said Althea Green-Dixon, Ph.D., director of the EMDP2 program and recruitment at USU. “It is intended to provide a common operating picture for members of the selection committee and, more importantly, better posture these candidates for the medical school application and admissions process in the future. We are excited to transition the EMDP2 to this next phase of its evolution.”

Learn more about the EMDP2 program.