Alumni Spotlight

Wilderness Rescue

Scott Light, PA-C (Seattle Class 38)

Prior to becoming a physician assistant, I was a U.S. Air Force pararescueman, a specialist trained to rescue people in any environment, anywhere in the world. Pararescuemen are trained as military divers, static line and free-fall parachutists, mountain climbers and aircrew members, and they receive training to develop many other skill sets that allow this broad rescue capability. I was a reservist working part-time while going to college, and prior to that, I’d been on active duty. My reserve unit in Portland conducted civilian rescue missions all over Oregon and in the Pacific Ocean. Our unit had also deployed to Operation Northern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Our reserve unit was very active, conducting civilian mountain rescues around the Pacific Northwest and deploying overseas to conduct rescue missions in support of national objectives. While I was an undergraduate in Portland, it was common for me to get called out for a rescue mission, or skip a term of school for a military deployment.

Initially, I was interested in becoming a teacher. At one point, I was doing a practicum in a Portland high school while also spending one day each week in a local emergency department through a training contract our unit had set up. I realized that I was enjoying my time in the hospital more than the work in the high school, so I changed my courses around and started working on medical prerequisites. I heard about MEDEX from an old military buddy who had become a P.A. in North Carolina and knew about the UW’s reputation for including military veterans in their program. I enrolled in MEDEX Northwest as part of the Seattle Class 38 and feel fortunate to have participated in the program.

In 2007, I moved to Aberdeen and took a position with the Hospitalist Service at Grays Harbor Community Hospital. In 2012, I started work with the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen. With the DOC, I act as a primary-care provider for 500 incarcerated offenders. I manage everything from medical emergencies to chronic care of medical problems. The work can be challenging and rewarding. The DOC uses physician assistants and nurse practitioners extensively and places a lot of value on our contributions to the department’s healthcare mission.