Other Featured Profiles in the Job Family
Physician - Anthony Rugieri
Registered Nurse - Tracy Isaac
Medical Service Technician - Roger Buck
Dentist - Seth Briggs
Registered Nurse - Brian Gonyou
Physician and Surgeon - Heather Cereste

Featured Profile for Physician Assistant

Ricardo Benavides

In the Air Force, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of things in the medical field. When I started out working in hospital operating rooms I was a Surgery Technician. In some instances when there were no other doctors available I’d serve as the surgeon’s first assistant. It was really hands-on.

After that, I moved onto orthopedics where I met some physician’s assistants. They told me what they did for the Air Force and the civilian sector, and I was interested. You have to have drive and desire to do better for yourself, and those guys fueled me to continue my education in medicine. I was able to get my associates degree in surgical technology. Then I got into the two- year Physician’s Assistant program, where I completed my bachelor’s degree, and came out a commissioned officer. A few years later, I was able to get my masters degree in Physician’s Assistant Studies.

The Inter-Service Physician’s Assistant Program is where I went to school and it’s like learning from a fire hose. They open the hose and you swallowed as much knowledge as you could as quick as you could. It’s tough, but it’s a well respected program within and outside of the military. Our people pass their national certification examinations on the first try at a very high rate.

When I finished, and had my national certification and credentials, I was qualified to see all the same patients that my family practice doctors were seeing. I can see newborn children up to 80 year old adults.

Once we have our certification, we’re deployed all over the world: from the medical clinic on any Air Force base to war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. We go to places like Sarajevo, and we do humanitarian missions to South America. We even have Physicians Assistants doing Presidential Support, travelling with the President and Vice President so they have medical care readily available.

My wife and I have two kids, and initially, we were concerned about raising our family in the Air Force. Working as a Physician’s Assistant isn’t a nine to five job, but the Air Force is really good about helping its people balance work with their lives at home. My work is so rewarding, I find I don’t mind putting in some extra hours here and there. As it turns out, my children have flourished. They love the fact that they’ve been to many areas of the country, plus they have great friends and a network of people they stay in contact with, and both of them do exceptionally well in school. I think the Air Force has made them stronger people.

Click to turn off flash