Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Meet the First Coast Guard Sponsored USU Medical Student

Image of US Coast Guard Ensign Bobczynski smiles at camera. Click to open a larger version of the image. U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate, Ensign Elyse Bobczynski has the distinction of being the first USCG-sponsored student to attend medical school at the Uniformed Services University.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate, Ensign Elyse Bobczynski has the distinction of being the first USCG-sponsored student to attend medical school at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Coast Guard, which falls under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security, has physician assistants and health services technicians, but it does not have its own dedicated medical corps. Instead, the U.S. Public Health Service provides care for USCG service members and their families, who may also seek care from Department of Defense providers in military medical treatment facilities. As a result, there is no direct path from the Coast Guard Academy to medical school other than completing your service obligation, getting out, and then pursuing medical school on your own.

Bobczynski, who graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 2015, knew in her first year at the Academy that she wanted to become a physician. She was partially inspired to pursue medicine after suffering a head injury while in school there.

"There were many complications with it, and I was in and out of the clinic for about 10 months. But it was this experience that helped me solidify my desire to help other people who were medically challenged," Bobczynski recalls.

She changed her major from Civil Engineering to Marine and Environmental Sciences, which was the closest she could get to pre-med. She also worked in the biochemistry lab to gain more experience.

When Bobczynski graduated, she was assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Walnut in Hawaii. Her job was to drive a 225-foot cutter around the Hawaiian Islands chain and service the Aids to Navigation -- minor lights, lighthouses, day beacons, range lights, sound signals, lighted or unlighted buoys, etc. -- which help boaters safely navigate waterways. And while in Hawaii, she studied for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test).

"I made friends with our independent duty corpsman onboard,” Bobczynski divulges. “For about two years, I picked his brain and slowly tried to learn everything that would help me potentially go to medical school. I had a goal, and I was laser-focused on it."

Later, Bobczynski transitioned to Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she worked in the office of the Deputy Commandant for Operations. She also devoted hours to studying for the MCAT, as well as taking other pre-med courses.

"I met people who helped me, and I developed connections to present my idea of becoming a doctor while still being in the Coast Guard,” Bobczynski explains. “I hoped things would work out so that the Coast Guard could actually send me to medical school. But, it wasn’t possible at that time."

Bobczynski refused to abandon her goal of becoming a doctor while being in the Coast Guard. She wrote a proposal and submitted it through her chain of command, but it didn't go anywhere.

"That didn't stop me," Bobczynski admits. "I thought that I'd just have to find a different way because my end goal was to attend medical school. If it happened in the Coast Guard, then fine. Separating from service wasn't my first choice, but I was going to medical school no matter what.

"I love the Coast Guard, I love our mission, and I love the people," Bobczynski beams. "I knew that I wanted to remain in the military, and USU was always my first choice for medical school. Even though I applied the first time and was denied, I was determined to just keep applying until I was accepted."

She cites the unified, teamwork environment at USU as a major draw to the university for her.

At the outset of the pandemic, her Chief Medical Officer discovered that Bobczynski wanted to go to medical school.

"She wanted me to come work for her so she could mentor and guide me," reveals Bobczynski. "So, I worked for her at the beginning of COVID. I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to policy creation, COVID decision-making, and other pandemic lessons. I was smack in the middle of medicine and healthcare―a great place to learn."

After a few months, the Coast Guard created a new job for her working in informatics, specifically with electronic health records. During this time, Bobczynski applied to and was accepted at USU and was able to stay in the Coast Guard to be the first Coast Guard-sponsored medical student.

"We've never had a Coast Guard-sponsored member at USU. Our current medical corps consists of Commissioned Corps Public Health Service officers. It's definitely been a process. However, sheer determination and knowing the right people who were willing to help me was actually what got me here," Bobczynski observes.

"We're excited to have our first Coast Guard-sponsored student at USU," says Navy Capt. (Dr.) Robert Liotta, associate dean for Recruitment and Admissions at USU's Hebert School of Medicine. "This new partnership is significant in that it increases the value of USU to the medical readiness of our nation's armed forces and the Department of Homeland Security."

"I want to help Coast Guardsmen because I have seen the difficulties that they face when it comes to getting medical care," Bobczynski added. "They need doctors who understand what they are feeling and going through. I want to be fully committed to my career, while also making a real difference."

Bobczynski believes her medical field specialty choices may be limited to family medicine, preventive medicine, emergency medicine, and internal medicine because of the needs of the Coast Guard. Already, she's leaning toward family medicine, but is open to all opportunities.

"How I see it is that all my doors are open. The hardest part was to convince the Coast Guard to send me to medical school. I'm super lucky and blessed beyond all measure. I know that there are quite a few people in the Coast Guard who also want to be doctors. I hope I can help open the pipeline so they can follow their dreams as well."

For Bobczynski, the road to the future is wide open. "Now, I'm choosing my own adventure, and I'm just going to try everything. I'm going to build my life as I imagine it. The worst thing that they can say is no. I've already heard that several times in my life, so I'm just going to keep on forging through with a smile on my face."

You also may be interested in...

What are USU Facility Dogs?

Video
4/5/2022
What are USU Facility Dogs?

What are facility dogs? The Uniformed Services University is the only medical school in the country that has facility dogs to serve their medical students and staff.

Recommended Content:

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Battlefield Acupuncture Training

Video
3/21/2022
Battlefield Acupuncture Training

Student at the Uniformed Services University learns how acupuncture can help treat pain on the battlefield.

Recommended Content:

Pain Management | Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

MHS Minute May 2021

Video
5/28/2021
MHS Minute May 2021

In this month's MHS Minute, the DHA's commitment to transforming military health continues. The DHA officially established the Tidewater market in SE Virginia, serving over 200,000 patients. The MHS is standing up 19 markets like Tidewater to allow healthcare providers to better meet the needs of their patients by improving coordination between facilities in the area.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | Health Readiness | MHS GENESIS

MHS Minute September 2018

Video
9/21/2018
MHS Minute September 2018

Interested in hearing about some exciting events that took place around the Military Health System last month? Tune in to the MHS Minute to learn more!

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Patriot Warrior 2017 - Moulage

Video
10/5/2017
Patriot Warrior 2017 - Moulage

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Rose Jane Schoenwandt, 349th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, California, and Staff Sgt. Caleb Boles, 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, discuss the importance of moulage during Patriot Warrior.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

USNS Mercy: Deployable Medical Center

Video
4/11/2017
USNS Mercy: Deployable Medical Center

U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civilian mariners explain the mission of the USNS Mercy and its capabilities.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Access, Cost, Quality, and Safety

Trauma Innovations

Video
3/23/2017
Trauma Innovations

Hemorrhage is responsible for 91.5 percent of potentially survivable battlefield deaths. From 2001 to 2011, an estimated 24 percent of combat deaths occurred before patients reached a treatment facility; the major cause of death was blood loss. Battlefield trauma innovations like the occlusion balloon catheter and freeze-dried plasma will enhance the Joint Forces' current capabilities.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | French Freeze-Dried Plasma Use in the DOD

Air Force Nurse Key Asset to Army Medevac

Video
3/22/2017
Air Force Nurse Key Asset to Army Medevac

U.S. Air Force Maj. Sandra Nestor, tactical critical care evacuation team nurse, is assigned to the 3rd Platoon, C Company, 2-149 General Support Aviation Battalion Medevac. Medevac teams specialize in moving and treating U.S. and coalition forces who are injured and risk dying without immediate emergency care.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Ophthalmology Medical Readiness Training Exercise

Video
3/7/2017
Ophthalmology Medical Readiness Training Exercise

The Ophthalmology Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) team is comprised of 26 U.S. military personnel and several host nation physicians who have partnered together to train medical teams in preparation for deployment. During the MEDRETE, the teams are able to improve the eyesight of more than 250 Panamanian patients during the two-week training exercise. The goal is to provide medical care that benefits the people of Panama, while building relationships with the accompanying Panamanian medical professionals.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness |

Any clime and place: Sailors bring hospital knowledge to the field

Video
5/19/2016
Any clime and place: Sailors bring hospital knowledge to the field

Sailors with 2nd Medical Battalion got out of their comfort zone and conducted a week-long training exercise known as a Health Service Augmentation Program at Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 18-22, 2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Racing to save lives at Steel Knight

Video
12/28/2015
Racing to save lives at Steel Knight

Corpsmen and Marines rehearsed life-saving skills during Exercise Steel Knight’s mass casualty drill, Dec. 12, 2015. Steel Knight provides tough, realistic training for the Marines and sailors of 1st Marine Division.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness
Showing results 1 - 11 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.