Plumber to Doctor

Air Force plumber takes advantage of a free military education to launch his medical career.

Plumber to Doctor

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Victor S. Jackson

Age: 35
Civilian Job: Resident Physician (Internal Medicine), University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas
Military Service: Senior Airman (E-4), Air Force (2003-2007)
Colorado Air Reserve (2007-2011)
AFSC: Civil Engineer (Utilities Systems Journeyman) (3E5X1

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Education:
• Associate degree, applied science in ecological/biological controls, Community College of the Air Force, 2005
• Bachelor’s degree, social psychology, Park University, 2007
• Doctor of Medicine (MD), University of Texas Medical Branch, 2015

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Childhood hero? Nelson Mandela
Favorite athlete? LeBron James
Hobbies? Soccer, cooking, outdoor activities with my kids, car repair and traveling
Favorite reality show? “Shark Tank”
Top thing on bucket list? Build a library in my hometown
Favorite sandwich, plus fixings? Steak and cheese sandwich with mayo, ranch and sweet onions
Childhood dream job? Fighter pilot

 

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Celebrity crush? Angelina Jolie
The world would be better without: Discrimination
Deathly afraid of? Snakes
Best concert ever? MercyMe concert in El Paso, Texas
Dream car? BMW 750 LI nautical blue
First job? In the U.S.: Sales clerk at Checker Auto parts in Wilmington, Calif.
Worst job? Bus conductor in Lagos, Nigeria

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Military to medicine. So how does an Air Force plumber become a doctor? Passion and lots of hard work. Victor S. Jackson, 35, is a resident physician specializing in internal medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. He’s doing what he loves, and he loves seeing the difference that medical intervention makes in the lives of his patients – sometimes within 24 hours.

Inspired by Loss. Jackson’s interest in medicine was piqued after his father died of group B streptococcus (group B strep) pneumonia in Nigeria because he lacked the money for medical treatment. “I chose internal medicine and primary care to impact lives, especially the less privileged like my father who often fall between the cracks when it comes to health care,” he says.

Free Degrees. Jackson’s journey to medicine began in the Air Force. The 22-year-old was looking only for adventure when he enlisted in 2003. But he didn’t waste the opportunity to get a free education. After basic and technical training, he worked from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and used tuition assistance to take night classes on base. He earned an associate and bachelor’s degree by the time he separated in 2007.

Transition to Med School. To prepare for transition, Jackson researched medical schools – then began applying. He used his Post-9/11 GI Bill after he separated to complete pre-requisite coursework before entering medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Jackson relied on unemployment benefits until he found a job that could accommodate his studies.

His Advice. Jackson graduated medical school in May 2015 and began the arduous residency requirement, which often means 74-hour work weeks. His military experience is invaluable in helping him cope with the hours, stress and awesome responsibilities he faces making the rounds in the hospital wards. His advice to transitioning service members boils down to this: “Do early extensive planning and have faith in yourself.”

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2016-07-19T14:03:15+00:00

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