After Scare on the Battlefield, Army Veteran Inspired to Pursue Medical School

Sgt. Everett Curry enlisted in the U.S. Army Infantry in 2004 when he was 18 years old and worked his way up to becoming a sniper, a job that put him on the frontlines.

During his first deployment, a nine-month stint in Afghanistan, Sgt. Curry was hit by a bullet in his calf. A helicopter rushed to the scene and took him to a medical station, where he received quick, efficient care from a trauma surgeon. It was witnessing that treatment firsthand, and understanding its importance, that made Sgt. Curry decide he wanted to do that someday.

“Once something gets in my head, it doesn’t go away,” he said. “And right there I knew I wanted to be a doctor.”

Sgt. Curry, a Kentucky native, is true to his word. He’s back in his home state pursuing a medical degree at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He has chosen to practice rural medicine after graduation, so he is enrolled in the college’s Rural Physician Leadership Program, during which he will spend his first two years at the Lexington campus and his final two years in Morehead, Ky., learning how to become a physician with specialized training for care in rural settings. The program is made possible through a partnership with Morehead State University and St. Claire HealthCare.

The Commonwealth is currently facing a physician shortage, making health care less accessible for citizens, particularly those in rural areas. RPLP is a major step in the College of Medicine’s initiative to bring medical students to Kentucky for their education and encouraging them to stay within the state for their practices.

Sgt. Curry is from Pilot View, Ky., a small town near Winchester, Ky., and he attended Morehead State University. Not only was he was aware of the challenges that rural areas faced when it came to health care access, but he also had a desire to help. After his Army experience he landed a job with the U.S. Department of Energy for six years to help pay for medical school.

He and his wife, Emily, currently live on a farm in Winchester, with Sgt. Curry commuting to the Lexington campus for his first year while Emily opens a salon in Mount Sterling, Ky. The couple actually met in the Army as members of the same breaching and clearing team in Iraq. Emily was a corporal.

Being in his first year, Sgt. Curry is far from officially deciding what specialty he hopes to take on after medical school, though he is leaning toward general surgery or vascular surgery. He believes some of that has to with his Army experience.

The time spent in the military has given him the qualities he will need to push through, mainly discipline and time management. In the Army, he woke up at 5 a.m. sharp. Now, he wakes up even earlier, 4:30 a.m., so he can make the most of his days that are full of learning, studying, and retaining all of the new information associated with becoming a physician.

It’s difficult, but he maintains his gratitude for reaching this point.

“I was shot, and I was bleeding, but I wasn’t on my death bed,” he said. “They got a helicopter, and the doctors were efficient.

“I feel very fortunate to be here.”