A Different Class of Veterans

This Veteran’s Day my thoughts go back to my Army days.  I was not the type of veteran we think about today.  I never saw a hostile theatre, never faced danger, and got far more from the military than I ever contributed.  I did my family medicine residence at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, WA from 1980-1983, and was a member of a pretty extraordinary class of 8 residents.  At least two of this class stayed in the military for their full 20 year career or longer, and gave back far more than I did. I thought I’d highlight some of my residency mates in this post.  I’ve lost track of some of the class, so here is a bit on those I still can find.

Ted Epperly MD

Ted Epperly MD: Ted was my closest friend in the residency class, we competed academically, ran road races together, and were pretty close.  If I was to vote one class member the least likely to have a long military career it would have been Ted  I remember as an intern Ted, hair too long, shoes not polished, rumpled, and always high energy coming up to me to ask for advice.  “Some old guy” had stopped Ted at the base PX parking lot, scolded him for his appearance, and told him to be in his office tomorrow with a hair cut and looking like a soldier.  Ted had been running into the PX for something, uncovered (no had on), hair over his ears, and wrinkled uniform.  The “old man” was the base commanding general, 3 stars on his shoulder, and I advised Ted to get a haircut, polish his shoes, and show up with his hat on.  Well, Ted went on to serve a 20 year career, become a leading academic FP in the army, and subsequently to serve at Idaho Family Medicine as residency director and as the President of the AAFP.  Here is Ted’s bio from the Idaho Residency web site:

Ted Epperly, MD, FAAFP | Program Director and CEO
Graduated from University of Washington School of Medicine in 1980, Dr. Epperly completed his residency in Family Medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, Washington in 1983. He completed a faculty development fellowship at the University of North Carolina in 1986 and holds a CAQ in Geriatrics. Dr. Epperly retired July 2001 as Colonel after serving 21 years in the United States Army. Dr Epperly serves as the past President and current Board Chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). He is a former member of the Residency Review Committee for Family Medicine (RRC-FM). This body accredits all of the nation’s Family Medicine Residency Programs. He has published over 40 articles and book chapters and he is a staunch supporter of Family Medicine education, research, and both rural and underserved health care. He and his wife Lindy have been married for more than 33 years and have two sons. Outside of medicine his interests include golf, running, fly-fishing, and reading.
Jim Nuovo MD

Jim Nuovo MD: Jim was probably the smartest member of our residency class.  He was always the one to have an open mind, to challenge the status quo if the quality of the data to support the norm was unsatisfactory to his analytic mind.  He was also kind, focused, and a quiet guy.  I chose Jim as our family physician while I was at Madigan.  Jim has also excelled in academic medicine. Here is his bio from the U. Cal Davis web site:

Jim Nuovo, M.D. – Professor, Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education and Student Affairs

Dr. Nuovo attended medical school at the University of Vermont and completed his family practice residency at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington in 1983. After working in private practice and on staff at Madigan, Dr. Nuovo joined the faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle where he completed a faculty development fellowship. He was the residency director there for two years before joining our program in 1992 to become the director of the residency program.  Dr. Nuovo’s clinical and research interest in management of chronic diseases led him to become the founding director of the UC Davis Chronic Disease Management Center. In addition to his role as Vice Chair of the Department of Family & Community Medicine, in 2004 Dr. Nuovo became the Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical Education, and in January 2010 he was named the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Career Advising for the UC Davis School of Medicine.

Dan Kopp MD

Dan Kopp MD: Dan was the “old guy” in our residency program. He had prior service before med school, was  a major when the rest of us were captains, and was just a super nice guy.  We all looked to Dan as an example of how we would want to balance between family, work, fun, and life.    He was smart, hard working, a great family man, and played the guitar at functions, making up words to songs like, “Don’t grow up to be a Doctor” (instead of a cowboy).  Dan served his career in the Army as a family physician and now is the Chief Medical Officer at Faxton St. Lukes Hospital.  I don’t know much about Faxton, but with Dan as their CMO they are far ahead of most hosptials.   Here’s his photo from there:

Terry Utt MD

Terrill Utt MD:  Terry was another of my classmates, and after a tour of service left the army to work in Puyallup. We worked together at South Hill Family Medicine for years before Terry decided to go out on his own as a solo FP.  Now he works for the Franciscan health care system, continues to deliver babies and still uses his Army training as a flight surgeon.  Terry remains a friend.

I’ve lost track of the other 3 residency mates, but from all of us I can assure you that our thanks to the Army for excellent training, and best of respects to those veterans whose service asked for a lot more than training in a hospital and working as a physician.  Find a veteran today and say thanks.

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