Dr. Jason Pasley, DO, FACS, COM '05
MAJ, MC, USAF
Jason Pasley, grew up in Southern California. He attended Undergraduate school at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, majoring in Chemistry. From there, he attended Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he graduated with honors, and he was selected for a Health Professions Scholarship with the US Air Force.
He was accepted into the General Surgery Program and trained at Keesler Medical Center in Biloxi, Mississippi as well as Wright Patterson Air Force Base and Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He completed a two year Trauma and Critical Care Fellowship at LA County/University of Southern California Hospital in Los Angeles and soon after, was chosen to become an instructor with the Air Force Program at the Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills, in Baltimore, Maryland, based at the Shock Trauma Center. Last year, Dr. Pasley was sent overseas to Afghanistan as the Trauma Director at Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield. This hospital is the main theater hospital for all military medical care in Afghanistan.
While deployed, Dr. Pasley received the Meritorious Service Medal. An excerpt from the medal reads… "The Meritorious Service Medal is awarded to Major Jason Pasley for Outstanding Achievement." During this period while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Major Pasley deftly orchestrated a team of 11 surgeons who accomplished over 1800 combat and humanitarian operations. As the hospital’s trauma expert, he led over 290 trauma evaluations. He played a crucial role in the hospital’s 97.7% battle injury survival rate. As director of the intensive care unit, he coordinated the treatment of 200 critically ill patients and stabilized over 35 for aeromedical evacuation. He also educated 20 Afghan clinicians as the lead surgical instructor for the Afghan Trauma Mentorship Program.
Dr. Pasley is currently the Director of Physician Education for the CSTARS program, as well as an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Maryland – RA Cowley Shock Trauma Center. And in May, the College of Osteopathic Medicine had the honor of having Dr. Pasley as their keynote speaker at this year’s 2015 Commencement.
In an interview with Dr. Pasley, he talks about his experience as a trauma surgeon in the military, what it means to be a DO, and how Touro prepared him for success.
Q: You're in Afghanistan in the midst of a war. Did your time at Touro prepare you for any the experiences you've encountered so far?
A: Touro gave me a strong background in medicine that helped me pursue my surgical residency that, in turn, helped place me into an excellent Trauma Surgery/Critical Care fellowship. My anatomy professors really paved the way and helped cultivate my interest of dissection and surgery. In my clinical years, the surgical faculty at TUCOM's affiliated hospitals had the medical students assisting from day one, which made me even more enthusiastic about surgery. Each step has prepared me for the rest and prepared me for where I am today.
Q: Is there something you took away from Touro that remains a part of your everyday experience?
A: Working together as a team comes into my everyday life, whether it is during a busy trauma at Shock Trauma in Baltimore, Maryland, or here at Craig Joint Theater Hospital in Bagram, Afghanistan. At Touro, whether it was studying for a test, practicing OMT, planning an event, or interacting with other students and residents, team work is the crux of it all.
Q: It's been a long day for you, where you've spent an array of hours in surgery. How do you unwind? How do you deal with the pressures of being in Afghanistan?
A: I unwind typically by talking with my wife. She is also in surgery so she understands the ups and downs we have with difficult cases or long days in the OR. Back home, I enjoy spending time with her and our dog, Charlie. We like to exercise and hike, although we are perfectly content chatting on the couch and watching TV or a movie to decompress.
In Afghanistan, luckily, I have a few close colleagues that I can decompress with. Also, Gary Weissenfluh (TUCOM '05), who is also a surgeon who completed his military time and is in his critical care fellowship, is also a great sounding board for me to discuss difficult cases with or decompress to. Also in Afghanistan, trying to come up with a schedule and regular exercise helps keep my mind on track and helps the days go by until I can come home.
Q: What advice can you give current students at Touro about what to expect as a doctor?
A: Being a doctor is hard work. It is extremely rewarding but it is hard work. The path itself is long with many ups and downs in the road, but in the end, it is all worth it. I pursued my training and went in my direction to help patients and families when they need things the most. No one expects to need emergency surgery or be involved in a traumatic accident and need surgery. I enjoy being there for the patient and the family to help them deal with whatever the event. It is even more rewarding being a trauma surgeon in the military and translating my skills to taking care of wounded soldiers. I think it is important to be passionate about what you want to do. Some students know what they want to do in medicine; I thought I wanted to be a pediatrician when I started medical school. I encourage people to keep an open mind throughout their clinical rotations. Find mentors; find something that they can be happy doing every day and everything will work out.
Q: Based on your experience in Afghanistan, what does it mean to be a DO?
A: I am proud to be a DO. I think that I received excellent training in my academic years and clinical years. Through the holistic approach, I have become a more compassionate provider which helps me not only back home but in Afghanistan as well. We take care of wounded American forces, coalition forces, Afghan military and Afghan civilians and regardless of who I am taking care of, I use an open mind and heart to be compassionate about the care I am delivering.
Q: What does it mean to be a Touro alum?
A: I am where I am today based on a series of events and my education. Touro is where I earned my medical degree, so obviously I wouldn't be where I am today without that. Touro gave me a strong foundation to build upon and through the military scholarship and residency, fellowship and the Air Force, I am able to be an Attending Surgeon at a large academic institution, doing what I love on a daily basis. I owe it to my faculty and classmates for getting me where I am today.
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