Out of Scrubs and Into a Grey Shirt
On his first deployment, a surgeon in Arizona goes from the frontline to managing the vaccination traffic line.
Upon the recommendation of a friend, I recently picked up and read “Once a Warrior” by Jake Wood. I was deeply inspired. Particularly moving to me was the organic, spontaneous roots of the organization Jake now leads: Team Rubicon. By the time I had finished the book, I knew I had to be a part of this team. All service starts with taking specific action, so I went to the website and signed up. That’s when I learned that Team Rubicon was active in my own community as part of the effort to administer vaccinations to the public.
I am a surgeon, and like most healthcare workers, I spend a fair amount of time treating people ravaged by COVID-19. I wanted to do more. As the number of coronavirus cases continues to surge, I am convinced that widespread vaccination has to be a key element of our strategy to defeat this disease. I knew I had to be involved. Vaccinations also seem like an amazing way to participate on the “healthy folks” side of the pandemic.
So, about one week after I signed up for Team Rubicon, I was sent on my first deployment” serving at the Tucson Medical Center drive-thru vaccination site.
I loved it. I got into everything. Every task that I could get involved with, I did. I didn’t give injections, but I did act as a greeter, do intake, work traffic control, and serve as one of the primary observers to verify no adverse effects after someone receives an injection. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I was even the team leader for the observer team.
I met and spoke with so many people from my hometown: those we were vaccinating and those who were standing shoulder-to-shoulder with me as volunteers. I heard “thank you” from so many sincere people as they received their little dose of hope. The irony is, I was the one who was grateful.
Am I looking forward to my next deployment as a rookie Greyshirt this week? You better believe I am.
James Wiseman, MD, MBA, FACS, is a Greyshirt, a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, and a general surgeon and clinical assistant professor with the Division of General Surgery within the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson.