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Celebrating Veterans Day by honoring Adventist Health veterans

Spirit, Show on Corporate Home

Every November 11, Veterans Day invites us to honor and express gratitude to those who have served our country through the military. This year, we’re highlighting one of our very own doctors, Linda James, MD, who served in the army for nearly 10 years after medical school.

Q: What is your military background?

Dr. James: When I was applying to medical school, each branch of the military offered 200 scholarships a year that covered tuition, books, fees and a living stipend for all four years of medical school. It was a competitive scholarship, and the idea was that you paid them back by being in the army for each year that they supported you. I did my residency in the army as well, so all in all, I served for 9 and a half years.

I graduated from medical school at the University of Miami in Florida, and then my internship was all the way across the country in Tacoma, Washington. My residency took me to San Antonio, Texas and from there, I served in Berlin, Germany; Zagreb, Croatia; Würzburg, Germany; and then at Fort Campbell along the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

Pictured: Dr. James, front row, third from left.

Q: How has your background in the army influenced your patient care?

Dr. James: When you’re in the army, you rapidly discover that there are 100 ways to skin a cat, so to speak. Either you are constantly moving, or people in your clinic are constantly moving, so you learn new techniques from all these different people. It’s almost like being in perpetual training; there will always be better ways of doing things if you keep your mind open. That experience has led to me being very open to learning new technology and better practices in medicine.

In the military, time in the operating room is also exceedingly rare. If you want to perform a minor procedure, like removing a lipoma or skin cancer or a simple lump, you have to wait months to do it in the OR, or you do it under local anesthesia in the office. Because of this experience, I’m very comfortable performing simple procedures in the office. This is often much more convenient for patients because they don’t have to schedule another appointment, get labs taken, or fast overnight for an OR procedure. It’s more efficient for them and for me.

Q: What was the most rewarding part of serving in the military?

Dr. James: I got the chance to travel the world and live in places I would never have been able to otherwise. When they say travel broadens the mind, it’s no joke. My life is so much richer for having lived in other countries and learned about different cultures. And it was a huge blessing to come out of medical school without debt.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your work as a surgeon?

Dr. James: By far, the most rewarding part of my work is interacting with all of my patients. I love hearing people’s stories and learning about their lives. There are some amazing people that walk through our doors, and I love getting to know them. After 22 years here, I feel like I’m part of an incredible community.