Road to Graduation: Caring for America’s heroes
John McCauley is the only graduating UF medical student to participate in the military match, but he never considered medicine or the military until his senior year of undergraduate work at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Prior to medical school, McCauley participated in a summer research internship at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio, Texas. He spent time in the Brooke Army Medical Center burn unit, investigating research topics when he discovered he enjoyed the clinical aspect of the military medical center.
“I found I liked the feel that military medicine had,” McCauley said. “There’s a lot of devotion to patients in civilian medicine as well, but there’s a different level in the military because you’re part of this organization that unifies you.”
After participating again in the research internship the following summer, McCauley decided to pursue medical school. The U.S. Army commissioned him as a second lieutenant before he began at the UF College of Medicine, and he completed a basic officer leadership course during the summer between his first two years.
“During the six-week course, we underwent three weeks of field training at a makeshift fort near San Antonio where we simulated a combat support hospital and a forward aid station. We also trained with weapons and learned other military skills like assembling a radio and calling in a MEDEVAC. It was like Boy Scout camp, but more explosions,” McCauley said with a smile. “I met a lot of great people there — a lot of people who I’ll be in residency with starting in July. I look forward to working with them again.”
McCauley, who specialized in urology, matched at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Rebecca Kaufman, also a UF College of Medicine fourth-year student, played the “geographic lottery” by trying to match her with an emergency medicine program near an Army medical center. She matched at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
“It was pretty stressful, but everything worked out perfectly,” he said. “I know some people aren’t that lucky, but it worked out for us, so we’re pretty grateful for that.”
Since the Army paid for his medical school education, McCauley will be a resident at Walter Reed for six years and then serve for another six years in active duty.
“UF prepared me to succeed in residency,” McCauley said. “UF has a really good track record of producing students who hit the ground running on July 1 — on the first day of internship. Hopefully, I’ll be able to uphold that tradition.”