How a Marine Infantryman Turned ER Doctor Is Using His Military Experience to Fight Coronavirus on the Front Lines

Onur Yenigun always wanted to practice medicine. He also wanted to serve his country. First he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Now, he's on a different kind of front line.

How a Marine infantryman turned ER doctor is using his military experience to fight coronavirus on the front lines

Onur Yenigun always knew he wanted to practice medicine, but serving his country was always important to him — so he joined the United States Marine Corps when he was 18 years old.

Originally published by Fox News

Onur Yenigun always knew he wanted to practice medicine, but serving his country was always important to him — so he joined the United States Marine Corps when he was 18 years old. After four years in the military, he began medical school and is currently in his third year of residency, fighting for his country in a new way, on the front lines of the ER treating patients with coronavirus.

In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Yenigun broke down the myriad ways his military career has impacted his current role as an emergency medicine resident physician at Stanford Hospital in California.

Coping with Stress

One of the first ways in which Yenigun explained that his experience in the military translated into emergency medicine was how he dealt with stress.

“In the Marine Corps, well, in all branches of the military, you are trained to handle stress well,” said Yenigun. “From the moment you get to boot camp, people are yelling at you, you’re moving fast. You’re always ready to be working under duress, and I think that’s similar to when a patient comes in and is crashing right in front of you.”

Yeningun said that it’s in those moments of stress where he feels the most focused.


Yenigun explained that learning to manage people by effectively out-tasking and focusing on the big picture made him more efficient in the emergency room.

“I served as a squad leader in the infantry and had a lot of Marines under me,” said Yenigun. “I had to be able to take a look at a situation and task people out appropriately to manage whatever situation arises, and that’s the same thing when it comes to situations in [the] emergency department.”

Making quick decisions confidently with little information

Yenigun told Fox News that he was accustomed to information coming at him fast in the Marine Corps, whether it was intelligence or the enemy. He said it’s crucial to be able to take the information “synthesize it, process it, and respond quickly.” Similarly, in the ER he explained that “there are moments where we have seconds to make lifesaving decisions and I feel like that’s something I’ve been well prepared for, and I’m able to do confidently.”

Yenigun has been working tirelessly since the coronavirus outbreak began and offered a final piece of advice to Americans around the country. While he understands the challenges that social distancing comes with, he said these measures are crucial to slow the spread of COVID-19 and will help buy time for medical professionals to find a cure, prepare sufficiently, and effectively treat patients that are already suffering.

“Social distancing gives us time for health care companies to develop vaccines, to develop any therapeutic treatments, a lot of which are under clinical trial now,” explained Yenigun. “It gives us a fighting chance against this virus, so I think it’s really a plea for everyone to just give us some time, give us an opportunity to be able to help them, and to help ourselves.”

For more on how Onur Yenigun is working to combat the coronavirus, watch the full interview above.

Emily DeCiccio is a reporter and video producer for Fox News Digital Originals. Tweet her @EmilyDeCiccio.

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