Urologist's 'war story' details successes, horrors in Iraq

November 1, 2007

Urology resident Lt. Cmdr. Richard Jadick, DO, was awarded a Bronze Star with a Combat V for valor for saving the lives of more than 90 critically wounded Marines, sailors, and Iraqi soldiers during operations in Fallujah.

Urology resident Lt. Cmdr. Richard Jadick, DO, wrote about his experiences as a combat physician with the Marines in Iraq in On Call In Hell:A Doctor's Iraq War Story. Hailed as a "Hero MD" in a Newsweek cover story, he was awarded a Bronze Star with a Combat V for valor for saving the lives of more than 90 critically wounded Marines, sailors, and Iraqi soldiers during operations in Fallujah. Dr. Jadick spoke with UT Editorial Consultant Philip M. Hanno, MD, MPH, professor of urology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, about his experiences in Iraq and his life as a fourth-year resident at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta.

Q. It's an honor to be talking to you, and I really enjoyed your book. Can you briefly discuss your background and how you came to join the military and enter medicine?

A. As a kid, I always wanted to be a Marine. I had no family in the military, but I just enjoyed watching military movies and shows. It was a kid thing.

I had taken biology in college thinking that I wanted to do something involving medicine. I applied initially to allopathic schools. I didn't even know what osteopathic medicine was at the time, and I applied on the last day you could turn in an application. But the schools had already pretty much completed their enrollment. Out of six applications, I was granted four interviews and was wait-listed at three of the schools. One of the schools, Albany Medical College in New York, suggested that I look into the osteopathic side of medicine, and that's when I wound up going to the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Old Westbury.

I recently became a fourth-year resident at the Medical College of Georgia. I came back from Iraq April 1st, so that's when I started. I have just under 2 years left.

Q. You have served all over the world, and in the book, you discussed the concept of moving medical services in combat to the front lines. Please discuss this concept and how you arrived at it.

I had enough trauma experience as an intern and as a second-year resident that I thought I could bring something forward. I knew that if I could get to an injured soldier within 5 to 10 minutes, then I could really intervene in the processes: stop the bleeding, put in chest tubes if I needed to decompress the chest, and get some fluids running.

It's also a matter of morale. When the Marines see you up front with them, they feel more comfortable to execute the mission, and the mission is always paramount to a battalion. If they don't have to worry about the medical casualties because they know we're behind them to take care of them, they're going to press on with the fight. They're not going to have to stop and allow the insurgents to regroup, and that's something that will actually save the lives of the people who are attacking. To do that, you need to have that support to be able to get to the casualties, and even the people who don't make it need to be evacuated very quickly.

I've had guys come up to me and say, "Sir, we've never had a doctor this far forward." Almost everybody in the battalion just loved the entire concept. We're all there to be a part of an operation and to complete a mission. I'm going to put everything I've got on the line for the combat troops so they're doing the same for me.