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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 said he ultimately hopes to return to the military as an Army physician, was 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.”

headshot of arron smith

Meet Arron Smith

“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.”

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

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