Every Nov. 11, the United States honors those who served in the military with a day to commemorate their service: Veterans Day.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso salute the veterans who bring their valuable experience and knowledge to our university as faculty, staff and students. This week, we recognize some of those individuals. We thank all veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice. They are dedicated to service and committed to care.
Blake Busey, D.O.
Blake Busey, D.O., is an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the Foster School of Medicine and a family medicine physician with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso. He served in the U.S. Army for seven years.
Prior to his military service, Dr. Busey was encouraged to go into medicine by his wife.
“I wanted to serve my country, and my wife convinced me to go to medical school first,” Dr. Busey said. “As such, I joined the Army through the Health Professions Scholarship Program. This paid for osteopathic medical school.”
Through this program, Dr. Busey attended Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, California.
After he was stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for residency in family medicine at the Womack Army Medical Center, Dr. Busey moved to Fort Bliss, Texas, where he served as the patient-centered medical home champion, pain management champion, medical director and clinical chief for William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
“My military service allowed me to develop leadership skills, which make it easier to assure patients that the treatment plan is beneficial to their overall health.”
Christopher J. Castagno
Christopher Castagno is a first-year student at the Foster School of Medicine and serves as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves. He served in the U.S. Army for four years.
A native El Pasoan, Castagno made the decision to attend medical school to continue a lineage of medical professionals.
“Both my grandparents, Dr. Joe and Dr. Mary Castagno, practiced medicine in El Paso for many years,” Castagno said. “My family grew up in the area. I wanted to continue the legacy of physicians in El Paso.”
For Castagno, joining the military was a chance for a higher purpose, which translated into his pursuit of medicine.
“I joined the military to serve my country and give back to my community. I wanted to take my passion for helping my community and translate that into the civilian world. I was an officer in the Army, and the overlap between physician and military officer are very similar in the medical community.”
Prior to medical school, Castagno graduated from The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, and completed premedical education at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. While serving, he was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Hood, Texas.
His service has uniquely prepared Castagno for a career as a physician.
“The civilian sector takes a lot of their practices and structure directly from the military. The entire team-based mentality is vital for both organizations. Without the entire team working together, whether in combat or in a medical practice, the best outcome will not be achieved.”
Roberto Prieto, M.D.
Roberto Prieto, M.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, specializing in oncology and hematology at the Foster School of Medicine, and a hematologist with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso. He served in the U.S. Air Force for 13 years.
Dr. Prieto enlisted in the military upon entering medical school.
“I couldn’t pass up the chance to serve my country and accomplish my medical degree at the same time,” Dr. Prieto said.
He earned his medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, and completed his residency at Keesler Air Force Base Medical Center in Biloxi, Mississippi. Following residency, Dr. Prieto completed a fellowship at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He was also stationed at Eglin Regional United States Air Force Medical Center in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
After completing his military service, Dr. Prieto went into private practice in San Angelo, Texas. The proximity to his hometown made him crave being back in the Borderland, and he eventually made his way to TTUHSC El Paso. His transition from military to civilian life was made easier because of the similarities between the military and medicine.
“There are numerous parallels between military service and medicine. An ideal that reverberates in anyone who’s worn the uniform is “service before self” — I think this is an idea shared between military service and medicine.”
John Kirtley is a student in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the Hunt School of Nursing and currently serves in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He served in the U.S. Navy as an active member for five years.
“I joined the Navy for a few reasons. The first reason was for to help pay for school,” said Kirtley. “Secondly, I love traveling and learning about different cultures and cuisines. Lastly, I wanted to do my part to serve my country.”
During his time with the Navy, Kirtley was stationed in both Fujairah and Dubai, both located within the United Arab Emirates. He knew he wanted to pursue a career in the health care field because of his lifelong interests in anatomy and physiology of the human body. He chose TTUHSC El Paso because of the staff that handled the pre-admission process, as well as the university’s unique programs.
“As a sailor and now a nursing student, I can say that working under pressure in stressful situations is definitely seen a lot in both professions. Every sailor must know some medical training in the military. The training I went through was designed for a combat environment called Tactical Combat Casualty Care.”
For Kirtley, he hopes to use previous training and the education he is receiving at TTUHSC El Paso to help the community.
“I am excited to graduate and provide compassionate and competent care for all patients because it makes me feel like I am making a difference and contributing to my community.”