• October 17, 2019

ER fellow earns loan repayment from Army - Odessa American: Local News

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ER fellow earns loan repayment from Army

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Posted: Friday, September 20, 2019 5:42 pm

Dr. Jeremy Horak, an emergency room fellow at Medical Center Hospital through Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at the Permian Basin School of Medicine, was recently accepted for a professional loan repayment program.

Horak, who is board certified in family medicine, and will finish his ER fellowship next June, also is a doctor and captain in the Texas National Guard.

“The Army has various programs for doctors while they’re in training as medical students, and as residents and as fellows and even afterwards. And so they are coming here to present me with the notification that I’ve been accepted for professional loan repayment,” Horak said in an interview on Wednesday.

“It’s a wonderful loan repayment program for doctors with the cost of medical education,” being so high, he said. “They know that and they know they need doctors, so they are willing to help us out. That way, we can continue to serve in the Army and get some of this loan debt paid off. The loan repayment for doctors is $40,000 a year for six years, so it’s very significant.”

For every year of service you complete, at the end of that year they will apply that loan repayment to your loans, Horak said.

“Even if I use this whole loan repayment scholarship … from the Army, there’s still other programs after that they help medical professionals out with. There’s specialty pay; there’s stipends; there’s a whole wide variety of things that they do to try to help cover the cost for education,” he added.

Dr. Jon Sexton, also an ER fellow, said Horak receiving the loan repayment is a good thing.

“I think it is great for doctors who are recently graduated from medical school to have a way to pay off their student loans. Many negotiate loan repayment as part of their early employment contracts, and many employers offer loan repayment as a signing incentive,” Sexton said.

He added that he admires Horak’s sense of service.

“Medical school loan repayment through military service allows him to serve our country and offer unique expertise,” Sexton said.

Horak earned a degree in agricultural leadership and development from Texas A&M University, which is where he met his wife. They have two children.

Horak said he’d always had an interest in medical school. “Then I just woke up one day and said I’m going to go to medical school and I made it happen. I’d been thinking about it for a while. I said this is the time; get the prereqs; get it done and don’t look back. That’s what I did, and from that day forward, I put everything into getting in, which is extremely difficult these days. But I told myself I was going to do it and do it on the first try and that’s what I did. I got in and passed each course and passed each board exam; just pushed on through,” he said.

He went to Kansas City University of Medicine for medical school in Kansas City, Mo.

Having grown up in Sweetwater, he wanted to come back to West Texas for his residency. He did that at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock in family medicine.

“I was looking at other opportunities after becoming a board certified physician and so always had an interest in expanding my scope of practice to emergency medicine and found this fellowship out here and felt that it may possibly be a good fit here,” Horak said.

He met the attending physicians and his instinct proved right.

“The fellowship allows doctors from my prior specialty, family medicine, to get advanced and further their training. It also allows for a second board certification and so you do this under the training of full-time, board certified ER doctors so that’s what it kind of gives you — this jump into emergency medicine,” Horak said.

Horak has been in the National Guard for six years. He said he has a long family history in the military and he’ll be deployed next fall.

He said the loan repayment program will help him stay in the Army.

“… I think it’s just a really good thing on the Army’s part and it helps recruitment retention and allows us to stay in and do what we like,” Horak said.

The ER fellowship increased by one doctor this year, “So we’re the first class of three.”

Horak said the program exceeded his expectations.

“They’re trying to keep really good quality control at this program. We definitely have plenty of work to be done in the ER, plenty of procedures and plenty of trauma and sick people. But you have to balance being able to teach and mange all that without overloading and having too many students and doctors and all that,” Horak said.

“Hopefully, it will get bigger in the future. The goal is to put ER doctors in West Texas and help kind of fill that gap,” he added.

While he wasn’t on duty for the Aug. 31 mass shooting, he said he will be involved with some of the research and data collection with some other physicians and other universities “to look at how everything was handled and the trauma and how to make things better,” he said.

Odessa, TX

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