Dr. Dave Swaby: From Iraq to Staten Island
Before Dr. Dave Swaby (Class of 2015) began his Pediatrics Residency at Richmond University Medical Center in New York, he already had experience as a global healthcare provider. As an Army veteran, Dr. Swaby studied and practiced medicine during his service, which had him stationed around the world.
Though Dr. Swaby was always interested in medicine, he didn’t initially want to become a physician. When he discovered the Army offered recruitment scholarships for those pursuing a career in healthcare, Dr. Swaby enlisted. From there, he completed his basic training at Fort Jackson, SC and the officer basic course (OBC) in Texas. He served tours in South Korea, Iraq, and Kuwait. He studied nursing but, eventually, wanted more.
A Life-Changing Experience
After an unfortunate incident left a young Iraqi girl and her family severely wounded, Dr. Swaby was in charge of her care. The Army didn’t travel with pediatricians so his team had to treat her to the best of their knowledge. Dr. Swaby arranged for her follow-up care and the equipment needed for her rehabilitation. When she received a wheelchair, she was incredibly grateful. Dr. Swaby realized his true calling was to become a pediatrician.
“When we were leaving, she told me, in English, ‘Thank you,’” said Dr. Swaby. “It was the first time she ever spoke English. Someone ended up adopting her in the United States.”
A Non-Traditional Path
After spending nearly a decade in the Army, Dr. Swaby decided it was time to apply to medical school. Considering he was older than the average medical student, it was nearly impossible to enter a U.S. medical school. Caribbean medical schools were more flexible, though. He heard about AUA and thought it might be a good fit. The rest is history.
“I appreciate the confidence the administration had in me,” said Dr. Swaby. “AUA gave me the tools to succeed in medicine.”
Teamwork is Universal
The teamwork he experienced in the Army continued to inform his medical education – and extracurricular activities. He formed a cricket team on campus, which competes with local teams. Now in his residency, Dr. Swaby finds his Army experience particularly useful when working with a small team.
“If you don’t work together, you’re going to drown,” said Dr. Swaby. “You can’t do it all by yourself.”
Even though he’s begun his residency, he’s still in the Reserves in case he is needed again. He highly recommends other military veterans use their VA benefits while they can and enroll in AUA.
“After a certain number of years, you’ll lose your benefits if you haven’t used them,” said Dr. Swaby. “I’m really happy about my choice to study at AUA.”
AUA has a grant available for eligible veterans and VA benefits are available as well.