He worked as an Army Judge Advocate (lawyer) and federal prosecutor for 11 years, but a traumatic event overseas led him to change careers to help veterans and underserved populations as a physician. This fall, Raudel Guerra begins his journey to becoming a doctor as one of the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine’s newest students. Guerra is also the first UTSA Pathway to Health Professions Program student to be accepted to medical school.
Guerra is a native of McAllen, TX, and a proud veteran of the United States Army. Over the course of five combat deployments as a Judge Advocate, he was awarded two Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart. While serving in Iraq, a rocket hit his base and wounded several people, including himself. Raudel felt helpless not being able to provide medical care to his fellow comrades.
“Wanting to help the wounded, but not knowing how to do it hurt me to my core,” Guerra lamented. He vowed to study medicine one day.
Determined to become a physician, Guerra left his career as an attorney and became a full-time pre-medical student at UTSA. In the middle of his post-baccalaureate studies, he learned that the Pathway to Health Professions (PHP) was recruiting veterans. The PHP is housed under the Policy Studies Center within the UTSA College of Public Policy.
“Dr. Miguel Bedolla, Director of the PHP Program, was a big proponent of veteran participation and went out of his way to help us,” said Guerra.
As a PHP student, Guerra took advantage of every study resource available to him at UTSA to prepare for medical school. He says, “In the Army, there is a saying, ‘If you need to kill flies, do it with a sledgehammer!’ Basically, that means to do everything you can to accomplish your task. Don’t hold back!”
His hard work paid off in February when he received his acceptance letter to the School of Osteopathic Medicine. Guerra credits his parents and family for his work ethic.
“My dad is an immigrant from Mexico. He and my uncle grew up in poverty but still managed to became pharmacists. They had to make a lot of sacrifices and work hard, but they did it. I’m following their example,” said Guerra.
Guerra plans on specializing in Family medicine in the hopes of providing much needed primary care services to disadvantaged communities in South Texas.
In his spare time, Guerra likes to scuba dive and bowl. He is also a competitive skydiver.
The Pathway to Health Professions program aims to eliminate health disparities and graduate students who will provide health care to economically disadvantaged populations.