Commencement is an important day in any medical student’s life, but for two medical students at Baylor College of Medicine, commencement day held another special meaning in their careers as they were commissioned into the military. In addition to receiving their medical degrees this May, fourth-year medical students Amanda Delgado and Bryant Nieto were commissioned into the Air Force and Navy, respectively, at a ceremony held in the Michael E. DeBakey Library and Museum at Baylor.
Delgado, who was promoted to the rank of captain in the Air Force, is pursuing her residency in obstetrics and gynecology through the San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium Program at Fort Sam Houston, and Nieto, who was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Navy, is completing his transitional year through the Navy Medical Center Program in San Diego. Both students are from the same hometown in South Texas, but pursued different branches of the service and both ended up at Baylor College of Medicine for their medical training.
Dr. Timothy Porea, clinical director of the Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, faculty advisor for Baylor’s Military Medical Students Association and retired Navy physician, led the ceremony and reminded those in attendance of the importance of the commitment both students have made to their country.
“Their medical training will be the same as that of their civilian classmates,” he said. “What will be different for them will be the population they are serving, the need to learn to practice in austere settings without much backup, and their dual roles as both military officer and physician.”
“Amanda and Bryant, your patients will be American heroes and their families. They have dedicated their lives to wearing the cloth of our nation and some of them have given much more than just their time. The adventure that you are about to join will be worth all the effort it has taken to get to this point,” Porea said.
Dr. Paul Klotman, president, CEO and executive dean of Baylor, told the students and their families that it is very special to not only provide service to mankind but also to serve one’s country. He noted that it was appropriate to have the commissioning ceremony in the DeBakey Library and Museum, given Dr. DeBakey’s service to the military during World War II, after which he helped develop the concept of Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) units.
“We’ve had a long history of innovating in healthcare in the military, and we expect you to continue that,” said Klotman.
Dr. Eric Schoomaker, lieutenant general, U.S. Army (retired) and former U.S. Army Surgeon General, served as the commencement speaker for this year’s graduating class and also attended the commissioning ceremony.
“You’re going to take an oath today that is identical to the oath taken by the President of the United States, it’s taken by every member of Congress, it’s taken by every Secretary at the Cabinet level,” said Schoomaker, who serves as professor and vice chair for leadership, centers and programs in the department of military and emergency medicine at the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine at the nation’s only federal health university, the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.
Schoomaker also noted the role that DeBakey played in the military.
“That fidelity and faithfulness to service, his dedication to taking care of America’s sons and daughters I think paid off for us as a nation,” he said.
Each student took an oath of office administered by Porea and had their rank devices on their uniforms changed by family members.