2017 Graduate Mullin plans career as Army physician

Story and photo by Kathy Eastwood Staff Writer

June 1st, 2017 | News, News and Features
Class of 2017 Cadet, and now 2nd Lt., Edmund Patrick Mullin receives his second lieutenant bars from his parents, Sharon and David Mullin at the Eisenhower statue Saturday. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native graduated with honors and will head to the Uniform Services University of Health Sciences Medical School at Bethesda, Md.

U.S. Military Academy Class of 2017 honor graduate Edmund Patrick Mullin from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had a unique perspective on his decision to enter West Point back in 2013; he was inspired by a news story he saw on television.

“I was watching the news one night about this college,” Mullin said. “It was about R-Day and I was laughing because they looked like they were scared out of their minds. My dad said that it was about the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and I didn’t know where it was, West Point, California, or what, but my dad told me that I should look into it, and so I did. I liked what it offered and loved the idea of selfless service.”

Mullin said he has been surrounded by medicine his whole life with a cousin who is a medic and an aunt and uncle who are physicians. His interest in medicine is as strong, if not stronger than it was when he entered West Point. Mullins will be heading to the Uniform Services University of Health Sciences Medical School in Bethesda, Maryland.

“What really got me into medicine is the idea of selfless leadership. Your entire job is to take care of someone who is nervous or stressed out. When I first got to West Point, I thought I would be justifiable and on my own with medicine until I saw about 20 other cadets who were also interested in medicine.”

Mullin has had a lot of medical training as a cadet. He did research work in Prosthetics, which was part of his Projects Day work in his junior year and his team of cadets earned the DARPA award (Defense Advanced Research Project Award), the service academies innovation challenge. He has since changed his direction in medicine.

“I have changed my focus to try to help people be less stressed when seeing a doctor or health care professional,” he said.

During his cadet career, Mullin got the opportunity to work at several hospitals and labs in New Mexico, Germany, Italy and Africa starting in his plebe year.

“During my first semester, academically I wasn’t that great, but I was lucky enough to go to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico in my plebe year. There, I concentrated on lab work. I learned how to make cultures and learned about plutonium pits, (a critical part of nuclear weapons) and went with nuclear engineers to the nuclear labs, which few people actually get to see.”

Mullin’s next trip was to the Regional Medical Center at Landstuhl, Germany, then to Vicenza, Italy where he received experience in field work.

“The medical center in Germany is where the U.S. sends Soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan for treatment,” Mullin said. “I remember going through the wards and seeing people my age who are away from their unit and family, and I thought this would be a perfect blend of military and medicine and I was struck by that.”

His favorite trip by far was the opportunity to work at the Army Hospital in Chad, Africa.

“I went to U.S. Africa Army Hospital in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, and it was the best five days I spent,” Mullin said. “The medical doctors there are educated in France and other countries because they don’t have many medical schools in Africa. They have over 200,000 people with only 40 doctors. It was incredible to talk to them. They are also in the African Army for life and are physicians for life.”

Mullin explained that it was a teaching hospital and physicians taught people medicine there, often in an austere atmosphere. They use equipment from the ‘80s and ‘90s and they teach how to work under those conditions.

“You get a great opposite frame of mind,” Mullin said. “They are a small medical outfit but they teach you that you can still practice good medicine even with less than optimal equipment. I have a real appreciation for small medical groups that can work with what they have. Government physicians there also have to deal with bureaucracy and diplomacy working with other countries. I came to love the country. It impressed me for what care they can give.”

Mullin said that his future medical goal is to become the Army Africa Command Surgeon because at that level, he can pursue what he wants to pursue in medicine.

With all the education he needs with four years of medical school, one year of internship and a two-year residency, Mullin’s service obligation will be expanded by another 10 years.