Family Physician: Army AMEDD
LTC Hustead, M.D., describes what it means to be part of the Army health care team and to have the honor of caring for our nation’s heroes and their families.
Hi, I am Dr. Tom Houston Lt. Colonel and physician in the United States Army. I am not here to sell you something. This is my story. I am here to share with you what it means to be part of a team of professionals. To have the honor to care for our nation’s heroes and their families. I spent the last 16 years of my career as a family physician in the U.S. Army. I can tell you that without a doubt the Army has been the greatest experience I could have ever hoped for. Not only do I get to serve some of the finest Soldiers and families, I get to work with the highest caliber physician colleagues I could ever imagine. I work with medical professions who are clinically excellent and are the epitome of selfless service and character as officers in the U.S. Army. Over the years I have come to realize that the camaraderie, respect and admiration with these individuals has been an added benefit of service I had not expected. The other significant aspect of life as a physician in the military are the incredible opportunities to work in all areas of medicine. One day you can be taking care of patients in a clinic setting and the next day, you can be the director of that clinic molding and creating it to be the ideal clinic to practice in. There are opportunities to work in ambulatory clinics, community hospitals and even large tertiary medical centers.
If you are interested in scholarly activity or teaching staff and graduate medical education programs there are opportunities to do that in nearly every residency specialty and fellowship available in GME, in one of the Army’s elite teaching hospitals. All the while, the opportunity to lead exists from the clinical level all the way up to the leaders of large medical centers and even possibly the surgeon general of the Army one day. I am familiar with all these opportunities because I have served as a flight surgeon in an aviation operational Army unit. I have worked in a community hospital, been a director of multiple outpatient clinics and even helped convert some of those clinics to an NCQA accredited patient center of medical home, which Army medicine is leading the way in the nation.
I spent seven years of my career in academic medicine teaching, molding young family medical residents into well-trained family physicians, culminating in my most recent position as a department chair for the family medicine department at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. I’m only 42 years old and I bet very few outside of the military are given the opportunity to do so much and broaden their skill set so vastly in such a relatively brief period of time. There are opportunities to do things only the Army can offer. I have been to Thailand and Indonesian on humanitarian missions. I have jumped out of airplanes and repelled out of helicopters. And most important of all I have been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan and had the most challenging and yet professionally rewarding experience of my life, caring for the men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. I am married with 3 children and the Army life has provided many valuable experiences for our family. Whether living in the East Coast or Mid-West close to extended family, to two separate occasions to live in Hawaii, our family has embraced and thoroughly enjoyed these great opportunities. The Army is looking for the best to be a part of our elite team. I understand this is not for everyone. We want physician leaders who are clinically excellent with a desire to broaden their skill set and do new and difficult yet rewarding jobs. We want physicians who are physically, mentally and spiritually fit with the resilience to practice for a career in the Army. We need physicians who, for the most part, would practice medicine they would in the civilian environment but when called upon will go above and beyond and maybe even heroically serve our nation in operational assignment and potential deployments to a combat theatre.
If you are that physician or a future physician considering army scholarship I would consider it an honor and privilege to work side by side with you. Although my experience has been as a full-time physician officer, physicians can have the same rewarding experiences in the Army Reserves serving in a part-time capacity. A recruiter will discuss the details of both options if you’re interested. Thank you for your valuable time.
Serving to heal, honor to serve.