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Alumni Spotlight

From medic to medical school: Sam Bishop, PBPM ’24

Sam Bishop teaches a STOP THE BLEED course

After college, Sam Bishop, PBPM ’24, enlisted in the Army and became a combat medic in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

“I went to art school, and that was obviously the natural next step,” he jokes.

In truth, Bishop, who will graduate from Goucher’s Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program this spring, was looking for a path with a tangible impact, and he wanted to join a special operations unit. When given the chance to attend the selection course for the Rangers in 2015, with a position as a medic if he succeeded, he jumped at it.

After basic training and selection for the Rangers, Bishop went through the Special Operations Combat Medic course; of his original class of around 75 people, 20 or so graduated. “It was in a way not unlike the post-bac program here in that what you’re learning is a mix of didactic and practical skills,” he says. He then served in Afghanistan and Iraq, taking care of critically injured people in combat. His other role was as the primary care provider for his platoon and to help give primary care for the whole battalion. It was a mix of acute trauma care and outpatient clinical work, two very different types of medicine. He had never considered medicine as a career path before, but now he was sure it was for him.

Bishop planned to go to medical school after the military. In 2019, however, he learned about Global Response Medicine (GRM), a nonprofit organization that provides emergency care in humanitarian crises, whether from war or natural disasters. He figured it would be a good experience for his future studies. In 2020, Bishop was hired as project manager for the refugee camp in Matamoros, Mexico, where he ran the medical clinic. Many of the volunteer doctors were Cuban refugees from the camps.

The people in the camp were primarily Central and South Americans who were applying for asylum in the U.S. and forced to wait in Mexico for their cases to be decided, thanks to a rule created by the Trump administration. “Prior to that, the way it worked, in accordance with international law, is that you apply for asylum as you enter the U.S. and then you wait with a provisional status,” says Bishop.

As people waited for their cases to be processed, the result was a bottleneck at the border and the creation of informal camps. Because the people applying for asylum were not recognized as refugees by the countries involved, neither the U.S. nor Mexico provided them resources. “When we showed up,” says Bishop, “most people had not seen a doctor since leaving their home countries.”

The camp closed a year later, shortly after Biden was inaugurated, and Bishop was promoted to the Mexico country director for GRM. The nonprofit’s efforts were focused in Matamoros, in another city called Reynosa, and in Tapachula in southern Mexico at another waiting point where migrants gathered.

After a few years, Bishop felt he had done what he could and was ready to go back to school. He researched post-baccalaureate premedical programs, in order to take the science courses he needed, and Goucher stood out to him as the best. By lucky chance, he had already moved to Baltimore, where his fiancé lived.

“One big part of being a military medic is teaching other people, be they junior medics or non-medical people, about medicine,” Bishop says. It occurred to him that his classmates at Goucher might be interested in a STOP THE BLEED course. A program of the American College of Surgeons and the Department of Defense, STOP THE BLEED is a training course to stop life-threatening bleeding based largely on the military’s approach. In late January, Bishop taught two sessions of the course to other post-bac students. It went well, so another two classes were offered to undergraduate pre-health students in February and March.

Bishop will begin applying to medical schools after he graduates this spring. Besides teaching other Goucher students, he also volunteers as a scribe at a treatment clinic for substance use disorder, and he is still working with GRM, conducting studies with data collected from the nonprofit’s work over the last few years in Mexico.

Bishop imagines he will keep passing on what he knows to others in the future. “I like teaching; it’s always interesting and engaging,” he says. “I think that will continue to be part of what I want to do in medicine. It’s a way to have an impact with the knowledge you have, beyond just what you can do yourself.”



(Photo at top): Sam Bishop teaches a STOP THE BLEED course for Goucher students.