Physician Assistant, Lawyer assists in Iraq

By Pfc. Abel Trevino
28th Public Affairs Detachment

LSA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — At 34 years old, Capt. David M. Lang has accomplished what many people might consider the impossible dream: he's practiced both law and medicine.

"I've had a stethoscope around my neck since 1989," he said.

While working days as a physician assistant, he also attended night classes working toward a law degree to fulfill his interest in law. After completing his law degree, he worked for a law firm in Connecticut specializing in medical malpractice defense and patent laws, Lang explained.

"I did mostly medical malpractice defense for doctors and hospitals being sued," Lang said.

Working closely with hospitals and doctors reminded Lang how much he missed working in the medical field.

"I miss medicine," he said. "I [was able] to work on some interesting things in the medical malpractice [cases], but I miss working and fixing patients."

Debate lingers in Lang's mind about going back to school again.

This has brought indecision in his heart, to stay in law upon returning to the United States or to return to medical school and work toward a medical doctorate.

"I want to go back to school, so if I go back it'll be for medicine," he said about a possible career change in the near future. "I think I'll probably go back and work for a little while as a [physician assistant] and seriously think about going back to medical school."

Here in Iraq, assigned to the 118th Area Support Medical Battalion and working at the Troop Medical Clinic has only reminded Lang of the career he once had.

"[Being here] I realize how much I miss working with patients. The day-to-day job is very rewarding and it's fun. I forgot how much I miss it," he said.

Here he works with people who remind him of the dream he pursued since his teen years, of his days as an emergency medical technician and of his years working in emergency care in the inner city of New Haven, Conn.

"I couldn't ask for a better group of patients and coworkers," he said. "[We have] a good group of medics here, a good group of Soldiers who are very interested and eager to take care of Soldiers and learn."

Education in the workplace is a vital part of the job that Lang longs to return to.

"The thing in medicine is that there is always teaching that goes along with it. There's always that implied role of teaching junior medics," Lang said.

Although Lang is pondering a return to medicine, he is uncertain where to continue his education.

"My wife graduated from med. school and wanted to go back west with her family. So when she graduated, she moved us over there," Lang said. "I haven't even seen the house yet."

"When moving she asked me if I'd like this or that. I said 'Is it burnt orange? Olive drab green? Have bugs in it? No? I'm going to love it," Lang joked.

Throughout his medical career, he pursued an interest in law, and after having experienced what both fields have to offer, Lang feels the future is wide open for him.

Editors Note: Pfc. Trevino is assigned to the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. He is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda.


news photo
Capt. David M. Lang

news photo
Capt. David M. Lang