I'm a better Doctor because...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 |

I STILL consider myself to be an FMF Corpsman at heart. I was an FMF (Fleet Marine Force) Corpsman stationed at 2nd MarDiv (Marine Division) Camp Lejeune), North Carolina. I was in Bootcamp (RTC Orlando, Training unit 216) 1 month after graduating High School; NTC Great Lakes for Hospital Corps School afterwards.

I graduated #1 in my class (79020) in "Corps School," and instead of getting ANY of my desired (plush) choices of duty stations (remember the "DREAM SHEET??"), I ended up with orders to "2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina." DAMN thing is...I am FROM Jacksonville, NC! Hell, the main gate to Lejeune is ONLY 6 miles from my house, and 7 miles from my High School! Holy Crap! To make matters worse...My father retired as MGySgt (E9) USMC after 35 yrs., my mother got out as SSgt after ten yrs. Welcome to **MY** misery.

I soon found out that as much as I wanted to 'escape' from "The land of the Jarheads," I came to realize that my upbringing in a Marine Corps Family; having (literally) an 'insider's perspective' of Marine Corps life was what brought me closer to my (Grunt) Marine brothers and sisters. That being said, I found it only 'natural,' or 'second nature' when I CHOSE to adapt to the Marine Corps Regulations and wear the Marine Corps Uniform.

Not only did I wear the Marine Corps uniform with pride, I *FELT* proud that I was one of 'The few, The Proud..." How quickly I was able to adapt myself as a field (Grunt) Corpsman as we were on one of our MANY 'humps' into the field. I carried my own alice pack, I carried my own EVERYTHING....JUST LIKE the other grunts in front of and next to me as we marched down the dirt trail. To this very day, I still recall being on a "Force March" that was pausing for a 15 minute break, when just as soon as our packs came off our backs, I heard, "Corpsman up!" I knew somebody needed me. Without a complaint, I headed up through the line to find a couple of grunts, their feet exposed, with the most "beautiful" set of blisters a Doc's ever seen. After 'patching them up,' and giving instructions to them and the platoon leader, I went back to my alice pack just in time to hear "Load 'em up.." and we were off again. No rest for me. SO WHAT. I was happy.

Later that day, we ended up in our lovely *playground...* "TLZ (Tactical Landing Zone) Bluebird." It was here that I had an opportunity (and I JUMPED ON IT) to qualify with the TOW, the M-16, and the LAW (Light Anti-tank Weapon). Not bad for a 'squid,' I'd say. As my time with the 6th and 8th Marines (2nd MarDiv) continued, so did my building (lifelong) friendships with my Marine Brothers and Sisters. I recall a few marines approached me (C co. 1/6), and asked if I would be there "Doc" during a competition. Not sure what this was, but said yes anyway..what the heck. Next thing I know, I'm REALLY having fun in the field. Beginning that year and for the next two years, I was the "Doc" for C Co. 1/6 when **WE** participated in the very competitive Marine Corps game of "SUPER SQUAD." Not only was I able to hone my skills as a field Corpsman, I was just as eager and competitive enough to make sure I did absolutely EVERYTHING "MY" Marines did in the field. That being said, I later became an FTL (Fire Team Leader) for our squad and LOVED it.

You know...EVERY YEAR we made it to Quantico for the 'showdown,' as I like to call it. Each time I was there, I absolutely LOVED the second looks I'd get from other marines coming in from units across the country. Standing amongst my 'fellow Marines,' as we met and shook hands with other units who were also participating in the event was made even better when many times I was introduced as "Our Fire Team Leader...Doc Terrell." I was indeed proud of my decision to be in the United States Navy, I was even more proud that I was considered to be 'one of the marines' in our company.

I LITERALLY thought that I had the "best of both worlds..." I was a United States Navy Corpsman, AND I was a FLEET MARINE FORCE Corpsman. Needless to say, I STILL think (I'm pretty sure I'm right about this) that I had the BEST time and the BEST experience as compared to the other Corpsmen there (whose only interest seemed to be to stay in the jeep, walk as little as possible, and GOD FORBID they actually got dirty or WORSE YET...learn to tear down, memorize parts and the order they went back together, clean the weapon and QUALIFY with weapons that (typical) Navy Corpsmen don't touch.). Then again, that's just *MY* opinion. Hmm..."lack of humility on my part? Yup...You got it. I stand by my words, typed or spoken.

Let me advance (quite) a few years: I have indeed 'run into' your situation (almost verbatim) so many times, I've lost count. I can tell you ALL DAY LONG how many times I've surprised a few RN's, PA's AND MD's with advanced training I've (WE AS FMF CORPSMEN) received over the years. For an FMF Corpsman to be 'relinquished' to that of a CNA I find to be insulting to say the least. BUT, as one person responding to your post said (for the most part) not many people (civilians) have a CLUE what FMF Corpsmen do. Keep in mind...I can name a FEW HUNDRED RN's that have NO CLUE what Paramedics do. I actually got into a 'dispute' with an RN of 21 years (under her white cap) when she said " Paramedics have no business handling those type of drugs and doing those procedures...that's what RN's and Doctors are for.." I'll leave *that one* alone.

not only did I ATTEND Medical School, I GRADUATED from Medical School AT THE AGE OF FIFTY. I've been a Family Practice Physician for a while now and am (get this...) I'm preparing to go to ODS (Officer Development School) in Rhode Island to begin my NEW career as a Navy Doctor. Let me assure you, Sir...I am only too keenly aware of the stigmatism of being "Only a Medic," or "Only a Corpsman," that comes as a result of nothing more than either miscommunication, or a total lack of knowledge.

Rest assured, I've made sure that EVERY nurse (whether it be an LPN, LVN or RN) that works with me, understands fully what WE as Fleet Marine Force Corpsmen do, which (again, in my opinion) far surpasses ANY *civilian* nurse. Case in point : FMF Corpsmen and the duties WE'VE performed in Beirut, Baghdad, Tehran, Afganistan...you name it...we're there.

It was my ENTIRE experience as a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman with the 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, NC...NOT Hospital Corps School, that makes me a BETTER PHYSICIAN and a BETTER MAN to this very day.


Jabulani said...

My ex-USMC buddy once very patiently explained Semper Fi to me. I am reminded of this as I read your post. Good luck to you in your new career, and thanks for a great post.

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