Now A Doctor, Always A Soldier
by U.S. Army Clemens Gaines, 20th CBRNE Command
May 16, 2021
James Kimball has a history of helping Soldiers. For a decade, he served as an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 71st Ordnance Group (EOD) at Fort Carson, Colorado. Later he would serve as an instructor at the Naval School for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (the joint services EOD school) at Eglin AFB, Florida.
In May 2021, he began a new level of service ... as an Army doctor with the rank of captain.
U.S. Army 2nd Lt. James Kimball, a former explosive ordnance specialist, studies an anatomy text in the library at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland on April 7, 2021. Kimball graduated from medical school, earning the rank of captain in May2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist Clas3 Brooks Smith)
Kimball began his studies in medicine in 2017 at the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. "I love serving alongside the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces,” Kimball said. “I am eager to continue this service in the medical field while providing support to the members in uniform as well as their families."
Kimball, a Telford, Pennsylvania native, centered his efforts on his goal of attending medical school while serving on two combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He took all of the required courses for medical school entry while caring for his critically ill child.
“My son Matthew was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011,” said Kimball. “My wife Elizabeth and I spent many months in the hospital, and we worked closely with a pediatric oncologist.”
After a brief remission, Matthew’s leukemia resurfaced.
“He went through another round of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant,” Kimball said. “Those efforts failed. He died during the summer of 2015. Losing Matthew strengthened my desire to enter the medical field.”
After succeeding in the challenges of EOD operations, Kimball found many parallels between EOD training and the rigors of medical school.
“EOD certainly exists in an extremely niche aspect of training and learning, but there are certainly crossovers with medical school,” he said. “Most notably is the reality that both EOD and medicine require life-long learning due to the overall vastness of each field.”
Kimball said, “Medicine is proving to be exactly the same in that no matter how deep you dive or skilled you become, there is still an overwhelming amount still left to be learned.”
Both fields require continual dedication to excellence and perseverance to always strive to perform at a high level, said Kimball.
Kimball’s four-year medical school education involved classroom instruction for the first 18 months followed by a significant amount of hands-on clinical experience.
Kimball noted that Soldiers bond during a grueling deployment, and he and his joint-service medical school classmates bonded through the intensity of medical school. “We have all shared personal victories and setbacks but shared them together and pulled everyone along as one. It has been incredible to grow and develop alongside this exceptional group of professionals and leaders.”
James and Elizabeth, and their two-year old daughter Madison, will PCS this summer to Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu where he will begin a residency in general surgery and treat Soldiers and family members from throughout the Pacific region.
“I am excited to be able to continue to serve my fellow service members and their families, Kimball said. “It has been a long challenging road developing the foundational skills of medicine while in medical school,” said Kimball.
“Leaving school and entering into a residency begins my path of reinforcing my foundation and building a more advanced set of skills.”
Note: Minor editing occurred without impacting the story.
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