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New Reserve Citizen Airman provides insight about medical career paths

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Editor’s note: Second Lt. Daniel Clesi is a member of the Air Force Reserve’s 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, with the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The lieutenant is a medical service corps officer in the 36th AES’s Operation Flight in Mission Management. During the week he works for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at Charleston, South Carolina as a Technical Career Field biomedical engineer. The Air Force Reserve has a variety of healthcare professional positions. Lieutenant Clesi is one example of how Citizen Airmen can hold one position in the civilian sector and learn another profession in the Air Force Reserve. To learn more, contact Master Sgt. Erica Schultz, Health Professions Recruiter, 770-864-2580, or Senior Master Sgt. Dominique Hogan, Enlisted Professions Flight Chief, 228-365-4151.

There are few careers that can build leadership and teamwork, directly impact patient care, expand technical knowledge, improve medical systems, and bring value to a medical facility quite like biomedical engineering. The field has grown so much over the years, new challenges are constantly evolving, and with that new methods are designed to meet them. If you enjoy staying on the forefront of technology, helping others, and improving patient care, then a career in healthcare technology management is the first place to start.

I was introduced to this field while I an undergraduate student at Louisiana State University. I began my studies as a premed, but I always desired to build and design new things. So, I changed gears and went into LSU’s bioengineering program. The complexity of the human body fascinated me, and I also enjoyed helping people, so I concentrated in biomedical engineering as a course of study. I also had a lot of fun playing rugby, and found that the team building, leadership, and perseverance I learned through sports would be essential to succeeding in my career.

I completed my undergraduate studies in 2015 and started working as an agency development manager for an insurance firm, where I gained valuable management experience. Each day, before and after work, I also volunteered at the Veterans Administration hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana. There, I worked with the biomeds on equipment repair duties and with the biomed supervisor on management duties. Around that time, I found my calling in the U.S. military. Military service has always been and remains a big part of my family and upbringing. I knew that, in my career, I needed to serve my country in whatever way I could.

The officer recruiting process would ultimately take me 16 months. During that process, I studied biomedical engineering in the graduate program at Tulane University. I continued volunteering with the VA in New Orleans and completed the 18-month master’s program in nine months. My wife and I moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where she works as a physician assistant, and we haven’t looked back. In March of this year, I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force Medical Service Corps, and I am currently stationed with the 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. (The squadron’s mission is the retrieve and transport patients and provide time-sensitive critical care while in the air.) It is an honor to be able to use so many different skill-sets to help the lives of patients and improve their care, both for veterans and active-duty servicemen.

You can develop skills in the HTM field from around the country and learn from many diverse backgrounds and regions. I’ve been working in my current role as a biomedical engineer at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston for about a year now, and I report for military duty at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. My current position has also taken me to training and conferences all over, including Long Beach, California, Las Vegas, Nevada, Cleveland, Ohio, Nashville, Tennessee, Columbia, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., Hartford, Connecticut, and Chicago, Illinois–this year alone. Before that, I worked at the Washington D.C. VA Medical Center, the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport and the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in New Orleans.

 However, just as important as learning different backgrounds, cultural influences, and approaches, is learning to master the wide range of tasks and duties you are faced with. On any given day, you might design a new clinical system, conduct a technical consultation for a service, perform data analytics on large data sets, put a hard-hat on and inspect new construction, build a virtual server for new software implementation, manage a high-cost or high-tech large capital project, reinforce cybersecurity framework, the list goes on. There is always opportunity for growth, and you’ll find that the more you learn, the more you discover there is much more to learn.

The HTM field is a great opportunity, and I invite more people to join our growing community of HTM professionals. No matter your background or where you come from, if you have the dedication and perseverance to apply yourself, you can excel. If you learn from subject matter experts, network with your peers and industry leaders, and have confidence in yourself, anything is possible with HTM.