Joshua Dettmer

Caring For Heroes
LT Joshua Dettmer, DO, Medical Corps, USN

“I get to do the job that I love, and I get to practice in a setting that helps me assist those who are protecting our country. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
— LT Joshua Dettmer, DO, Medical Corps, USN

Besides the obvious benefits, like paying for his medical education and other related expenses, Dr. Joshua Dettmer’s Navy experience has allowed him the privilege of caring for America’s heroes. And what an honor it’s been.

“There are individual patients throughout my training who gave me a sense of accomplishment, of being able to take care of basically heroes in the military,” he says. “In the civilian world, I’d never be exposed to this or meet these people. I would never have the opportunity to take care of them.”

The pride is evident, justified and something that transcends the practice of medicine. He goes on, “When I come to the office and see servicemembers and my colleagues in uniform, I know that I am a part of the United States Navy. And above and beyond being a physician, I am an Officer.”

Born and raised in a small town in southern Indiana, LT Dettmer was commissioned in the Navy in 2002, the same year he began medical school. “Once I was accepted to my chosen medical school, I had to figure out a way to pay for it,” he explains. “I did not want to graduate medical school with the typical $200,000 debt. While researching, I happened upon a website describing the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) through the Navy.”

That program helped him earn his medical degree at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. “Not only did HPSP provide tuition and books for me, but they also gave me a monetary stipend each month to live off so I didn’t have to worry about paying rent or when I could afford to buy groceries,” he explains.

Once out of medical school, LT Dettmer began his internal medicine internship and residency at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. In 2009, he was selected for a prestigious cardiology fellowship at the Naval Medical Center San Diego. And soon, he’ll have the opportunity to practice virtually anywhere around the globe as part of the worldwide network of Navy Health Care.

For young men and women contemplating starting their own medical career in the Navy, he offers the following, “Whenever people start talking about medical school, the big names come up. Hopkins. Stanford. Mayo Clinic. They are well-known…well-respected…and top-notch,” he acknowledges. “But in my opinion and experience, the facilities, staff and overall opportunities in Navy Medicine rank right up there with them. Plus, I don’t think you can get any more world-class than to say that you practice medicine all over the world.”

The Time To Sit And Listen

“It gives me the utmost pride and pleasure to take care of Active Duty servicemembers, and at the same time – as a cardiologist – to take care of a lot of retirees.

Being able to hear about their experiences in the Korean War and Vietnam…having that time to actually sit down and talk…it’s something you can’t get in the civilian world because of the pace of civilian practice.

In the Navy, money is not an issue. I get paid the same amount, whether I see five patients or 25 patients a day.

One of my old professors said, 'If you sit and listen to a patient long enough, he or she will tell you exactly what’s wrong with them.' And that’s something I’ve found multiple times in my military career.”

— LT Joshua Dettmer, DO, Medical Corps, USN