Top notch

The 2013 Alumni Award winners are excelling and bringing others along with them.
by John Martellaro // Spring 2013
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EdigerMajor General Mark Ediger

Alumnus of the Year

Ediger (B.A. ’77, M.D. ’78), deputy surgeon general for the United States Air Force, supports the surgeon general in overseeing operations for a $7.1 billion, 43,000-person integrated health care delivery system. His skills as a leader in the strategy, planning and execution of medical missions have contributed to joint medical support that saves the lives of Americans wounded in action.

How did you come to take on the role of an Air Force physician?

About three years after I started my private practice, I joined the Air Force Reserve to get some experience and see if it interested me. I realized the Air Force was something I wanted to be a part of and was going to provide some opportunities that were exciting to me. So in 1986, I decided to go on active duty.

I knew that the Air Force was something I believed in, and thought it would be worthy work to be part of an organization with that mission. I also was interested in aerospace medicine, and hoped there would be opportunities to explore that. I also welcomed the opportunity to develop as a leader.

What was special or memorable about your education at UMKC?

The most memorable thing and most special thing are always the people you went to school with. Going through the six-year program, it’s year-round, so you really become close to people. And I really had some memorable teachers on the green docent unit, particularly Bill and Marjorie Sirridge.

I think the way students learn to be physicians at UMKC, the school does a really nice job of producing patient-centered graduates who really see themselves as serving their patients. That’s what I valued about the school’s philosophy, and it turns out that is a very good match to serving as a medical professional in the military.

What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?

The thing I found most rewarding was being a commander of a medical organization. I had the opportunity to do that three times, once in a combat environment. That was in 2002-03, commanding a hospital in northern Saudi Arabia during invasion of Iraq. It was an opportunity to be a commander and to work with the people in a medical organization and do things as a team, but also to help develop people who are part of the team and see them go on to do valuable things afterward.

I would add that I am honored the school is recognizing me, and I must point out that any success I’ve had in the Air Force has been as part of a team.

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