“The Military Gave Me a Foundation for My Life”
Future PA Dale Andrews’ Service Directed Him to His Career
Dale Andrews, a former combat medic, said that his experience in the military led him to become a physician assistant.
“There weren’t many opportunities where I grew up,” recalled Andrews, who grew up in a small town in South Carolina. “I didn’t like school so I didn’t see the purpose of going to college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and the military seemed like the best option.”
Andrews joined the Navy in 2006. He turned 21 in boot camp and said joining the military was one of the best decisions he’s made.
“I met people from every different background,” explained Andrews. “I met people from all over the country.”
During his service Andrews visited over eighty countries, including Antarctica where he provided back-up medical support. The majority of his time he spent in Japan, serving both as a medic and working as a dental hygienist, depending on the needs of the base. (He is fluent in Japanese.) Andrews also served with a combat unit in Iraq and Kuwait.
“We would be responsible for 300 people. Our main objective was to handle triage, cuts and battle field injuries,” said Andrews. “I dealt with gunshots, amputations and trauma. I got a lot of hands-on fast-paced emergency medicine training. My job as a first-responder was to take care of patients and stabilize them so we could get them on to a helicopter to be taken to the hospital.”
Andrews said that being in a unit influenced the direction of his life.
“All the people I dealt with were medics, doctors or dentists,” recalled Andrews. “They had high standards and that left a mark on me. I was heading down a path where I probably wouldn’t have done anything significant and the military helped me avert that. When you’re in an environment where everyone you see is a doctor, a PA or a dentist, you realize that it’s something you can accomplish too.”
Andrews said leaving the military and accommodating to life as a civilian was difficult. While attending Manhattan College, Andrews met another veteran who graduated from the Touro SHS PA-Manhattan program.
“She told me that Touro was made for veterans,” said Andrews.
Knowing that Dr. Joseph Tommasino, chairman of Touro College’s PA programs, was a veteran himself helped solidify Andrews’ decision to attend Touro.
“It’s a really great PA school. It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done, I’d prefer to go back to the desert,” he laughed. “PA school challenges you.”
Andrews is set to graduate with the class of 2021. He is intent on specializing as a cardiothoracic surgical physician assistant and plans to spend time working in some capacity with other veterans. Another reason Andrews said he is happy with his choice of Touro is that the program offers a behavioral health track that he plans on utilizing to help other veterans.
“Healthcare for veterans is improving, but it’s still pretty bad,” said Andrews. “We have a suicide rate of 21 people a day. Touro’s behavioral health track program will allow me to help veterans as soon as I finish the program. A lot of times veterans are uneasy about talking to civilians but once they find out you used to be a doc, a combat medic, conversation flows and you can get to the root of what they’re suffering from.”
“The military gave me the foundation for my life,” said Andrews. “Without it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”