University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Army doc found path through UVM program

Major Doug Powell, MD
Major Doug Powell, MD


Army doc found path through UVM program

Major Doug Powell, MD, is humble about his journey to becoming a doctor. “Anyone can do this. I am not particularly gifted, but I put in the work to understand it,” he says. “If you are committed and can take one bite at a time, recognize this is a decade-long journey, and enjoy it.”

Back in 1991, the Vermont native was a design team leader at Burton Snowboards. A graduate of Middlebury College with a degree in history, Powell had always been drawn to healthcare volunteering and began visiting and reading to Fletcher Allen oncology patients. Finding his interactions with patients rewarding, Powell decided he wanted to change his career. Advice pointed him to medical school, and he soon learned the most recommended way to connect his unrelated undergraduate degree with medicine was through the UVM Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program. 

In 1999, Powell met with Polly Allen, the post-bac program director and respected advisor to many students transitioning into the medical field. Allen encouraged Powell to try one class, and he told himself that if he got good grades, he’d take another. He got an A, and kept earning A’s, all while going to school at night and working at Burton by day. 

In 2001, Powell completed his post-bac work, which he credits for preparing him to successfully complete the MCATs. “The post-bac program introduced the language of science and medicine which in a lot of ways is training in itself,” he reflects. “The road to understanding the language—not just the words, but how they are applied and are relevant—was an essential building block to everything that followed in medical school and clinical training.” 

Powell would go on to study medicine at Wake Forest University and has applied his education and skill in service of his country as a doctor in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, and Landstuhl Army Medical Center in Germany —taking care of wounded service members in the ICU on their journey back to the United States. As a brigade surgeon in Afghanistan, Powell cared for four thousand combat soldiers. Further motivated by his desire to treat soldiers and their families, he became a critical care medicine fellow at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Graduating from the Walter Reed fellowship in 2013 and moving to Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Powell is now the first staff intensivist at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg. “Womack is an Army hospital which is really trying to build up its capabilities and take care of more complicated patients. Being a part of such a tight team providing really good care is a great first opportunity out of training,” he says.

Major Doug Powell, MD, has thought about the post-bac program and assistance from UVM’s Continuing Education Department many times on his journey “from Biology 101 to the present,” he says. “Medicine was a calling and the process of going through the post-bac program while surrounding myself with patients as a volunteer helped keep me grounded,” he says.

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