It’s the time of year where the weather gets better and students all over get that annual week off from their studies – spring break.
While most college students go home, visit resorts, or just plain sleep, one Air Force Academy junior booked a round-trip ticket to here, the Southern California High Desert. Not to party or unwind, but to study and learn.
Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Aaron Bassut spent a week at Edwards AFB to shadow doctors from the 95th Medical Group from March 26 to 30.
During the five days, Bassut observed how Team Edwards doctors treat everyone from civilians to test pilots.
“Maybe it’s not the most desirable thing to do for spring break, all my friends are at Panama City Beach (Fla.), but it’s something that I felt I had to do and wanted to do,” said Bassut. “I can’t do this at the academy even with all our opportunities there. I can’t shadow flight surgeons like I do here and that’s a really unique opportunity.”
Bassut majors in biology at the AFA and his life-long dream is to be a doctor, specifically in the Air Force.
But, it wasn’t all work and no play for Bassut during spring break. The reason he chose Edwards is because of his connection to the base where his family resides.
“All his life he has wanted to go into medicine and be in the military so now it’s all coming together,” said Carlos Bassut, 95th Force Support Squadron director and Aaron’s proud father.
“He’s studying for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) in April and he asked if he could shadow doctors here at the clinic during his spring break. I said, ‘It’s your spring break.’ But, that’s what he wanted to do,” said Mr. Bassut.
Mr. Bassut called Col. Stephen Donaldson, 95th Medical Group commander, to see what could be done.
“This community is great. As soon as I brought it up to Colonel Donaldson, before I could finish my sentence, he said, ‘We’ll make it happen.'”
Mr. Bassut said Lt. Col. Tracy Neal-Walden, 95th Medical Operations Squadron commander, worked the paperwork, which included training regarding the Hippocratic Oath, and set up Cadet Bassut’s visit to the Antelope Valley.
“We allow several types of shadowing visits in the medical group to include physical therapy and nursing. This is a great opportunity for us to pay back to the community and for students to get firsthand knowledge of what we do in the medical field,” said Neal-Walden.
Bassut primarily shadowed Lt. Col. (Dr.) Kathryn Hughes, Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander and flight surgeon because he aspires to be both pilot and doctor.
“There’s a pilot to physician’s program where you can live two dreams in your AF career. You can become a pilot and then a doctor. I feel for anybody that is an intriguing route to take. It sounds amazing and if I could do both I think that’s an incredible opportunity,” said Bassut.
While studying to take the MCAT and preparing to apply to medical school, he said this visit to Edwards was helpful in reinforcing his life goal.
“I’ve actually have grown more hard set that the medical field is definitely what I want to do in the military. I feel the medical family is a lot more connected together and works well together more so than the civilian medical world.”
“I appreciate how welcoming the doctors were when I was there. Each of them gave me their two cents and it’s something that I will keep with me forever.”
Upon graduation, Bassut said he plans to apply to medical school at U.C. Berkeley or possibly another California university close to his family.