Already a life-saving hero, humble Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) third-year student Benjamin Taylor remains committed in his quest to become a flight surgeon. An Army national guard officer, the self-proclaimed ‘go-getter’ has served as an emergency medical technician, paramedic, flight paramedic, physician’s assistant (PA), certified emergency medicine PA and rescue diver. He’s now ready to add medical doctor to his repertoire.
“Throughout all the ranks, I’ve never lost interest in medicine while furthering my knowledge base in the military, aviation and how to best help others,” said the former brigade surgeon for the Hawaii Army National Guard. “I became an aeromedical PA working with flight surgeons and realized I want to be that physician. That’s what motivated me to apply to Ross University,” which he learned about from his dad, a fellow alum.
Growing up in Florida, the oldest of three children earned his bachelor’s degree from Washington Adventist University in Maryland and his master’s degree and physician assistant certificate from Barry University in Florida. He and his high school sweetheart have relocated and supported each other through many career changes, accompanied by their four children, aged 2 through 15. The family has settled in Georgia for now and rely on faith to point them in the next direction.
Medic in the Air
A former first-chair saxophonist, Benjamin looks forward to marrying his two passions — medicine and aviation. “It just struck a chord,” he said about flying. “I like to help others out of bad situations and thought why not take care of people in the air.”
But he’s also assisted on the ground… on a day when it mattered most. On September 11, 2001, Benjamin finished his paramedic shift and had been heading to a haircut appointment when he received a call to assist. “We were two zones away from where the plane struck the pentagon. They needed mass casualty support to funnel people to the right places. I was one of the first responders to the area; we were poised to help if needed.”
Benjamin doesn’t see his efforts as heroic in any way, but rather part of the job. “9-1-1 is a call to service. Once you’re in this field of ER medicine, you bring a unique skillset and ability to block out immediate trauma to do your job and apply your skills. I do what’s needed — isolate what needs to get done, fulfill the capabilities of my job and save lives.”
That doesn’t mean he’s immune from the effects. “I work to get the job done but I can get choked up talking about it,” he said, recounting a flight over Savannah when an airplane passenger had a stroke and he teamed with on-board pilots to provide telemedicine assistance with guidance from Federal Aviation Administration medical personnel. “ER has always been the shoe I wear in the trenches. It’s definitely not glamorous work but it’s the one I’ve been most comfortable in.”
Serving in the National Guard as he finishes his medical journey, Benjamin enjoys spending time with this family. He advises fellow students to stay ready for whatever comes next, likening it to his marathon days. “Everything requires acclimation. We might have our running shoes on, but we don’t know the course and we haven’t finished the race. We have to be ready for anything; stay focused and balanced on this medical school journey.”
For those interested in family support, please contact the Ross Spouses Organization. Group members can offer information about local schools and day cares; types of children's toys, supplies and groceries available on the island; and what companions / families can do while in Barbados. Also welcome are single-parent students. For more information, please contact RSO through email and check out the group’s website and social media page.