The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

Military Medicine with Dr. Mandy Cuda

Dr. Mandy Cuda trained at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) and served as an active-duty military physician for 16 years. Currently, Dr. Cuda is working as a part of USU’s teaching faculty and recruitment team. In todays’ episode, she shares her experiences as a USU student and as a female army physician.

  • [01:20] Why Family Medicine?
  • [03:31] Military VS Civilian Residency
  • [10:21] Do you need an ROTC background to get into USU?
  • [18:57] Dr. Cuda’s Experience as a Female Army Physician
  • [26:52] Tips for Work-life Balance
  • [32:26] Dr. Cuda’s Advice to Pre-meds and Medical Students

Why Dr. Cuda Chose Family Medicine

Dr. Cuda had a very generalist mindset going into military medicine. Initially, she wanted to be a general surgeon but her experiences in the operating room led her to re-think her decision. When she tried family medicine, Dr. Cuda enjoyed seeing a variety of patients. She realized that a family physician would be a great asset to the military.

Differences Between Military and Civilian Residency

There are more residency options in a civilian medical school in comparison to a military medical school. Dr. Cuda enjoyed her residency at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. She had the chance to take care of military personnel and veterans. With regards to the residency experience itself, she believes that there isn’t much of a difference there.

USU for Military Medicine

For those interested in military medicine, consider applying to the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. It has a unique military curriculum that emphasizes public health and preventive medicine. You will learn more about military history and gain exposure to the military. Choosing USU for medical school has the added benefit of free tuition and a salary. Students are in active-duty status and are paid correspondingly. Upon graduation, students are expected to serve at least 7 years in the uniformed services.

Is Military Background Necessary?

About half of USU’s population has previous experience in the service. However, this is not an admission requirement. What USU values is one’s commitment to serving the military. In Dr. Cuda’s case, she got accepted to USU on her second try. The admissions team was not sure she would be committed to the military experience during her initial application. To prove her commitment, Dr. Cuda made an effort to connect with military physicians and to gain more experience. Similarly, you can do the same to bolster your application. Try to get shadowing experiences in the field and get to know military doctors in your area.

Tips for Work-life Balance

Reflect on your life experiences through mindfulness practices. For Dr. Cuda, she finds journaling especially helpful. She can look back at previous journal entries and see common themes in her life. This greater awareness allows her to make deliberate choices around her values.

Dr. Cuda’s Advice to Pre-meds and Medical Students

Getting accepted into medical school on your first try is rare. If you don’t get accepted immediately, use the time to do something different. Be flexible and build yourself up in other ways. Look for other opportunities to grow. When you become a medical student, pay attention to what drives you. Finally, be selective about who to listen to.

Erkeda DeRouen

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen is a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, followed by completing medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed residency at The University of Maryland Family and Community Medicine Program. After that, she worked at an underserved community health center, and currently is an Associate Medical Director of a telemedicine company. She recently became one of the first 1,000 lifestyle medicine certified physicians in the world! Her areas of interest include: health equity and eliminating health disparities, service of underserved populations, HIV management, transgender care, mentorship, and lifestyle medicine.

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