Thursday, June 17, 2004

Sudip Bose, Medic Man

Sudip Bose, Medic Man

Even the Desi presence in Iraq is not just a regular soldier, but you guessed it, a doctor. This story from chronicles Dr. Sudip Bose, a desi who joined the army to pay his medical school bills, and who is now a surgeon in Iraq, saving the lives of Americans as well as the Iraqis who are trying to kill them.

From the article:
When the young American arrives on a gurney with the bullet wound in his abdomen, the medic lifts him into the helicopter, making sure he is lying on his left side to ease the strain on his heart. If the soldier, whose name is Chris, closes his eyes, the medic talks to him and wakes him up. Over the palm groves north of Baghdad, the medic works out an IV to keep him from going into shock, and watches the flow of saline into his vein. Eight minutes later, the crew is taking Chris off the Black Hawk and running with his gurney through the emergency-room doors of the combat support hospital. Dr. Sudip Bose and the staff of the emergency room are there waiting for him.

The injured soldier's doctor, Sudip Bose, is the lanky 30-year-old son of Indian immigrants from Calcutta. He grew up in Illinois and went to Northwestern Medical School, following the path of millions of first-generation Americans into the professional universe. But where others opted for safe careers and high-paying positions in the civilian world, Bose ended up in the middle of a war. When I first spoke to him, he was sitting behind a desk piled high with packaged snacks in an office he also slept in. Bose was distractedly mixing a protein drink, talking about the need to stay in shape. After a few minutes he spent describing his life, it was clear that Bose is an unlikely soldier. In 1996, after his first year of medical school, he took a look at his tuition bill and joined the Army, accepting a deal where the military would pay for a year of education for every year of service.

"It was a tough decision but you have to pay back the debt somehow, and I could have ended up with about $200,000 of debt. My parents were struggling with it. There were a couple of choices; I could work 23 hours a day and pay it off or pay it off at the age of 50. You don't know what's going to happen so you don't know if it's a good decision or a bad decision. If you lose an arm or a leg it's a bad decision," he said without irony. In six years, he reasoned that he would be nearly debt-free, having paid it back in an honorable way by serving the country.

The Army, for its part, took a look at Bose, saw his quick mind and his skill as a surgeon, and sent him to Iraq where he is now treating a steady stream of Americans and Iraqis for an enormous range of injuries, many of them horrifying. Bose also has the distinction of being the only board-certified physician in emergency medicine for 135,000 Americans and an unknown number of Iraqis. He will treat anyone who comes through the door.


Click here to read on (you have to subscribe or do the free day pass to access the full article--it is worth the effort).


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