National Doctors’ Day: Being a Medical Doctor in the Air Force

  • Published
  • 81st Medical Group

National Doctors’ Day is a day to recognize, celebrate and pay tribute to physicians and their contributions to people’s lives and communities. Our doctors at Keesler Medical Center (KMC) are tasked to provide trusted care to our Airmen, their families and retirees. The work they do at KMC is constantly breaking new ground and setting the bar for the rest of the Department of Defense. We asked our physicians at KMC to tell us what it’s like being a doctor in the world’s greatest Air Force.


Col (Dr.) Shahid Zaidi, 81 Medical Group medical staff chief,

When I initially joined the Air Force it was about a scholarship and a way to feel like I was giving something back to my country. Now, after almost 19 years, it has been an incredible opportunity. Air Force medicine has brought me experiences I wouldn’t have had as a civilian. It has allowed me to serve one of the best populations around, our military members and their families. As a pediatrician, I have taken care of children as their mothers or fathers were deployed; I shared their anxieties, their relief and occasionally, their sadness. I have traveled to places I never would have gone and I have served with many great people. As my time in the Air Force is nearing a close, I have no regrets; instead I have incredible memories and friendships. The Air Force has enriched my life.


Maj (Dr.) Ramon Riojas, 81 Surgical Operations Squadron general surgeon,


I think most people think a military doctor is someone that is working in a deployed setting all the time. Yes, that is a part of it, and it may be one of the reasons we decide to join the Air Force, but I think there is a lot more to working in the Air Force. We also take care of our airmen stateside, their families and our retirees. Here at Keesler, we have collaborations with Veterans Affairs and we are ready to respond to local emergencies or catastrophes throughout the United States. I feel proud when people ask who I am or where I work. But I am especially proud when I can take care of one of our own. It's awesome to hear what jobs they do, and how we are all a part of a team with a unified mission.


Col (Dr.) Rita L. DuBoyce, 81 Medical Group director of graduate medical education,


Prior to graduation from medical school I took the Hippocratic Oath. The principle of "First do no harm," is ingrained in all physicians as we enter into the practice of medicine and help to guide physicians in the ethical practice of medicine. Having been a physician in the civilian sector for a number of years prior to entering Active Duty military service, the Hippocratic Oath was the only oath I knew.  As a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force, I now have sworn to my second and most important oath, ". . . to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. . ."  Being an officer and physician in the Air Force lends credence to our motto: “Integrity first, Service before self, Excellence in all we do." The Air Force has given me the opportunity to care for our active duty service members, retirees and their families who have sacrificed so much for this country. I consider it an honor to serve them in my capacity as an air force physician. In performing my duties as an officer and physician, I feel I am making a positive contribution to my country.


Capt (Dr.) John Olshefski, 81 Aerospace Medicine Squadron flight commander,


My experience as a physician in the Air Force has afforded me many opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise had in a civilian practice. I was fortunate enough to have received training in Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) as well as Critical Care Air Transport for members requiring urgent medical attention and evacuation to a higher level of care. I have had the chance to not only work in a large medical center, but also to work in a squadron of elite combat medics. During my previous assignment, I had the privilege of being assigned to a unit of pararescuemen who were dedicated to the motto, “These things we do that others may live”. It was an honor to work and deploy with a group of such selfless and skilled members who constantly hone their skills to ensure they are ready if called upon. These opportunities are a few of the reasons I am proud to serve with the men and women of United States Air Force.