Staff Sgt. Shane Berger, an airborne linguist with the 755th Operational Support Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., was one of nine enlisted Airmen selected to attend a medical degree preparatory course.
The Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program gives selected Airmen an opportunity to complete the preparatory coursework for admission to medical school while maintaining active duty status.
Berger found out about the program just over a year ago when he overheard other Airmen discussing it. He instantly knew this is what he wanted to pursue.
“Prior to enlisting, the medical path was kind of an unrealistic goal for me as somebody that has always had to support themselves,” Berger said. “This program has opened up a path that I never really thought was possible.”
The lengthy application process took Berger approximately a year to complete, and included gathering required documents as well as collecting letters of recommendation and personal statements.
Additionally after 12 years, Berger had to prepare for and retake the ACT test.
“It’s funny you forget how to divide fractions, those simple things you haven’t done since you’ve taken the class,” Berger said.
The two-year EMDP2 program will transfer Berger on permanent change of station orders to Bethesda, Maryland. This is where he will attend school full-time at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. Through the program all tuition and associated academic costs are funded by the Air Force. Following successful completion of the program, graduates will apply for acceptance to the USUHS medical school as well as civilian medical schools.
While daunting, Berger has a strong passion for learning and education.
“I’ve always felt that school is a comfortable, safe and enjoyable environment for me, and I’m prepared to sacrifice myself for the benefit of not only personal growth but also for the amount of investment that the Air Force has and will continue to put into me,” Berger said.
Berger’s enlisted AFSC’s strong focus on education has prepared him for the challenge to come.
“Learning a foreign language over the course of a year was a big challenge for me however, I was able to successfully complete it and it will prepare me for the workload that is soon to follow,” Berger said.
At a crossroad in his career field, and with his contract almost up, Berger took the plunge and accepted the challenge to become a doctor.
“It’s time for me to move onto a position with more responsibility and maybe have a little bit more overarching viewpoint of the Air Force in general,” Berger said.
Berger’s passion for learning and his core principals of goodwill to others and civic duty drove him to apply to the program and will continue to drive him to successfully complete it.
“I’ve always been somebody to discover new things, and the alluring thing about the medical program in a military sense is an altruistic endeavor,” Berger said.
Upon successfully completing EMDP2 and becoming an Air Force doctor, Berger will be able to provide medical treatment to Airmen in need. In addition to being able to help his fellow Airmen in a physical capacity, Berger also hopes he can inspire them in a broader, holistic sense, so ultimately, they will aspire to materialize their highest ambitions.