July 6, 2020
2019 Military Service Award Recipient is ‘Ambassador for the PA profession’
Colonel David Hamilton Completes ‘Firsts’ for Army PAs
April 15, 2019
By Sarah Blugis
Colonel David Hamilton, MPH, PA-C, the 2019 recipient of the Military Service Award, first began his medical career over 34 years ago as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician in his home state of Ohio. While at Ohio State University, he joined the Army Reserves and eventually became a Special Forces Medical Sergeant, and transitioned to Active service.
Since becoming a PA, Hamilton has been able to work and practice in a variety of settings. He was assigned to the 1-4 Infantry Battalion in Hohenfels, Germany, where he was an innovator – helping to establish better processes and develop a team-based approach to increase access to care. He also worked to help revive the Society of European PAs, and brought together more than 25 PAs from all over Europe.
“I have had the opportunity to pursue unique jobs as a PA, and always work to be an ambassador for our profession,” Hamilton says.
He later attended the Master’s in Public Health Program at the University of Oklahoma, learning occupational health at Tinker Air Force Base, and then served as an occupational health PA in New York. From there, he deployed to Iraq in 2005, where he helped the Iraqi Military Police learn lifesaving skills, and trained them in modern trauma care. He then returned to Germany to prepare his medical company for a long fifteen-month deployment to Afghanistan, where he would go on to help organize the first ever Point of Injury aeromedical evacuation by the newly formed Afghanistan Air Force.
Upon returning to the United States, Hamilton completed a few firsts for PAs. After mentoring over 30 PAs and PA students at Fort Carson, he was selected to serve as the first PA to command a Public Health District. After two years, another PA first: He returned to Fort Carson to serve as the Deputy Commander for Health Readiness.
He was then selected to serve in his current role as the Deputy Commanding Officer of Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In Hamilton’s words: “I serve as chief operating officer, and apply my perspective as an Army Medic and operational PA to the planning, management and synchronization, of health operations on Fort Bragg.”
For much of Hamilton’s career, he has focused on finding ways to streamline healthcare and advocate for PAs. He also represents Army PAs as the PA Consultant to the Surgeon General, working to advance the profession within the Federated Health System.
“I have heard time and time again from patients and managers – PAs care, and take more time to listen and manage comprehensive care than other providers,” Hamilton says. “I tend to believe that our time in other experiences and professions, our life challenges, shape our perspective of what folks need from health professionals.”
Hamilton also finds time to give back. In his spare time, he helps to commemorate World War II parachute jumps with WWII veterans, and participated in the 70th and 74th anniversary jumps of the D-Day invasion. At Fort Carson, he assisted new and out-of-practice parachutists in learning how to skydive and jump safely. And he also helped with school physicals during weekend clinics, and volunteered his time to help the Society of Army PAs. Throughout his long career, Hamilton’s focus has always been on helping others.
“I accept this award for all of the PAs, Soldiers, family members, patients, and bosses who spent time helping me learn the profession, who were – and are still – patient with me even today as I continue to learn new skills in medicine and management,” Hamilton says.