EMPORIA (KSNT) –  Serving with the Army overseas in Afghanistan, Dr. Bryce Heitman learned quite a lot from his seven years of active duty. The skills he was tested on every day turned him into the doctor he always wanted to be.

For Bryce, becoming a physician wasn’t a question of if, but when.

“I don’t know of a time where I haven’t wanted to be a doctor,” Dr. Heitman said. “I always wanted to be a physician.”

The next question he faced, was how. After receiving his first tuition bill, the future doctor met up with several different military recruiters. He saw a future with the army, where his skills were put to the ultimate test.

“You’re a plug and play,” Dr. Heitman said,” you are a jack of all trades. I had the opportunity to be in several different areas from Somali stations where it’s me and three medics, to common support hospitals that had CT scanners, surgeons. It was a great opportunity to learn from point of injury to treatment to evacuation and stabilization, it was a wonderful opportunity.”   

That opportunity came with a lot of responsibility.

“You’re the answer guy when you’re the battalion surgeon, you’re it,” he said. “That was good and bad.”  

While serving halfway around the world, the differences in healthcare accessibility became incredibly apparent. Through MEDCAPS, Dr. Heitman was able to make quite the impact for the local population.

“Most of the care we did was trauma care,” Dr. Heitman said. “For instance children or civilians would get hurt, had we not been there for stabilization and care they might have likely died.” 

Through the multiple years of aiding fellow military servicemen and civilians, Dr. Heitman learned valuable skills that still resonate with him to this day.

“You never know what you’re going to walk into a lot of times when you walk into a patients room,” Dr. Heitman said. “I wouldn’t say it’s natural, but I think we have the ability to adapt and to figure it out. I think my training did serve me well in that aspect of it.” 

These days Dr. Heitman is still practicing in Emporia, where he continues giving back to fellow servicemen, as a medical coordinator for the Emporia Honor Flight Program.