This veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom is using his battle-honed medic skills to embark on the new mission of becoming a doctor at the UCF College of Medicine.
“I think I’ll have a good rapport, a connection [with patients who are veterans]. I know there are things a vet won’t share with anyone else unless they’ve been in combat.”– Arron Smith
As a U.S. Army combat medic in Iraq, Arron Smith trained to make quick decisions to care for his fellow soldiers on the battlefield. He earned the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service during his deployment for Operation Iraqi freedom, then received his nursing degree from UCF and worked for eight years as an orthopedic nurse at Orlando Health before deciding to enroll in medical school. Smith, who says he ultimately hopes to return to the military as an Army physician, is one of four military veterans in the College of Medicine class of 2019.
During his one-year deployment in Iraq, Smith was the Assistant Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Specialty Clinic, where he oversaw 12 soldiers who provided care to their colleagues. He staffed eight different clinics and worked closely with physicians and surgeons at those facilities. He says one of those physicians, an Army doctor from Nebraska, encouraged him to go to medical school. He believes his military background has prepared him to stay calm in emergencies, think quickly on his feet, and appreciate firsthand what veterans have given to America. He hopes that understanding will help him connect with veterans during his clerkships. All UCF medical students spend time during their training at Florida VA hospitals in Orlando and St. Petersburg. “I think I’ll have a good rapport, a connection,” he says. “I know there are things a vet won’t share with anyone else unless they’ve been in combat.”
- Nuremberg, Germany
- Earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing from UCF
- Served as a U.S. Army combat medic during Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Awarded the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service
Meet the UCF M.D. Class of 2019
4,875 verified applicants for this year’s class – a record number that even more than 2009 (4,307) when the college offered full scholarships to the entire charter class
121 enrollees – this is the medical school’s third class of full enrollment; the entire college will be at full enrollment (480) in 2016-17
24 UCF undergraduates — the most to date and the first class where UCF undergraduates outnumber graduates from any other Florida state university
Students’ alma maters include John Hopkins, Harvard, Yale, Duke, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, UCLA, USC, Auburn, Northwestern, Boston University and Emory
4 military veterans, 2 Ph.D./J.D. and 14 students with master’s degrees
65 females and 56 males
Fluent in 30 languages besides English