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From Shoulder Pads to Shoulder Boards, Navy MSC Officer leads the way

Soldier in mask Navy Lt. Mark Fisher, Medical Service Corps (MSC) officer, takes part in a brief birthday celebration of the MSC August 4, 2020. From an initial group of 251 in 1947 serving in four specialties - supply and administration, allied sciences, optometry, and pharmacy, there are now nearly 3,800 active duty and reserve MSC officers. (Photo by: Douglas Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton public affairs officer.)

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Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask

For Navy Lt. Mark Fisher, wearing a uniform as an immovable force against a determined foe was just part of growing up.

The former Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Blue Raider has replaced his shoulder pads after a stellar collegiate football career with shoulder boards as a Navy Medical Service Corps (MSC) officer.

He’s donning a decidedly different kind of uniform now - as part of Navy Medicine- helping to block the spread of COVID-19 as well as support operational readiness.

“I played at MTSU for four years and was voted team captain by my peers,” said Fisher. “The position I played was right tackle. I was blessed to be given the opportunity to be part of the New Orleans Saints organization for a short tenure at center.” The Nashville, Tennessee native was also an All-Sun Belt Conference on the field and recognized with several academic awards.

Fisher’s Navy career began when he was approached by a recruiter in Nashville.

“At the time, the numbers of new Healthcare Administrators were at one or two per year, making it very competitive. I was just about to start my Master in Business Administration in Healthcare Administration and planned to join after I completed. The rest was history,” related Fisher.

After being accepted in the Navy, he received orders to Naval Hospital Bremerton to be the Deputy Chief Information Officer (CIO). “I was mentored by one of the most respectable CIOs in the Navy Information Technology community, Mr. Patrick Flaherty,” Fisher explained.

“I was in that role for a year then deployed to Afghanistan for approximately 10 months to serve as the CIO,” explained Fisher who”recently returned from his time at the NATO Multinational hospital at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan.

As CIO of the hospital in the war-torn southern region of a land long wracked by continuous conflict, Fisher took challenges – large and small, personal and professional – as one might expect of a offense lineman; head on.

“My contribution was to ensure that our war fighters had 24/7 communication lines and real time data during medical needs. Expanding the IT infrastructure to reach our war fighters throughout all parts of Afghanistan was a challenge and it was gratifying being able to support them on the front lines,” said Fisher.

Fisher’s interest in a career with Navy Medicine is rooted in family.

“My grandfather was a WWII submarine veteran. He was the only survivor of his sunken submarine, USS Growler (SS 215). My brother is a Mustang [a commissioned officer who began as enlisted]. You could say that the Navy was always in my blood. I knew that, given the opportunity, the Navy could be where I could become a valuable asset in a tight-knit family,” commented Fisher.

“I was accepted into medical school at the same time that the NFL was knocking on my door. I thought long and hard about which path I would take,” shared the Fisher. “I chose the NFL and declined my acceptance into medical school. I played for two years, going on and off the 53-man roster, and the practice squad for the New Orleans Saints. The lessons I learned are priceless. I learned how to lead others, and the value of practice.”

After his time with the Saints, he returned home and attended Vanderbilt University to complete his MBA, He graduated with honors, at the top of his class. Shortly after, he brought his unique background to Navy Medicine.

“Early on I was told I could not make it in the pros. I refused to accept that I had limitations. I knew I was responsible for my own success. I found many people around me who had a very fixed mindset (that) limited their potential. My role is to continue to provide opportunities and support my Sailors to achieve their goals,” Fisher said.

As a MSC officer, Fisher provides integral expertise in helping support the command mission of operational readiness and ensuring there’s a medically ready force as well as a ready medical force, whether during a pandemic outbreak or not.

“I will be able to support our war fighters wherever the Navy needs me to go. As a HCA/CIO who has been forward deployed and integrated within hospitals/clinics, that experience will allow me to be more efficient in maintaining continuous operational readiness. I can look at situations through different ‘lens’ to think outside the box,” said Fisher.

In summing up this Navy Medicine thus far Fisher replied, “I have had the fortunate opportunity to learn from the best leaders and introduce those skills into young Sailors.”

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