Being a "doc" in the infantry means you've already been put through some chaotic training long before reaching your first unit.
Now that you've received orders to deploy to a war zone, you'll probably have a sh*t-ton of questions flowing through your mind.
Rest easy, doc. Here are a few things every medic or Corpsman should know before making the journey to the frontlines.
1. Spread out your medical gear.
Corpsmen and medics usually carry a ton of gear on their backs. They haul a mobile emergency room alongside their ammo and weapon systems. Since war is unpredictable, it's impossible to plan on exactly how many bandages, tourniquets, and IV bags you'll need for every mission or patrol.
That said, have your squad members pack those extra items in easily-accessible pouches on their flak jackets so you can grab what you need in a hurry.
The classic "IFAK," or Individual First Aid Kit. Every troop should carry some version of this important setup.
2. Train that muscle memory. Then, train that muscle memory some more.
Boot medics train for hours to learn how to render care to an injured troop. The fact is, when those bullets fly and the explosions go off, your mind will run in several directions. When that happens, your trained muscle memory will kick in and you'll find your hands treating sustained wounds efficiently – even though your mind might not be set in "medical-mode."
This is where all that training you did prior under stressful conditions pays off.
3. Don't lose your confidence.
Young medics are going to make mistakes — it's just the way things work. They'll make small ones and big ones. Truthfully, most of your squad members won't know if you did something wrong unless you admit it or wear an "I-f*cked-up" look on your face.
At the end of the day, you're the medical professional and, if you lose confidence in yourself, your squad will, too.
4. Don't attempt to be the big shot.
Corpsman stationed with Marines might attempt to look as badass as the rest of their squad members by pretending to know all the ins and outs of being an infantryman. It happens a lot. Pretending to know everything and acting like a big shot will just make you look dumb when you get called out.
If you watch and learn, one day you'll actually be that big shot.
5. Never give up on yourself or on your troops.
Being a doc means you're going to feel the all the ups and downs of an emotional rollercoaster. Some days will be tough, while others will seem like a walk in the park. The key to any crappy moment is to remember your squad members will go above and beyond for you — as long as you do the same for them.
This Medal of Honor recipient, Robert Ingram, saved numerous Marines' lives after being shot several times in battle during the Vietnam War.