As Shreeman Pericherla (BS ‘22) prepares to begin his studies at medical school, he's taking time to reflect on the journey that got him there. Pericherla's ultimate goal is to be a combat surgeon. The child of immigrants, he was born and raised in the U.S., and this has motivated his career path. “I enjoy the amenities of being an American. I feel guilty enjoying all of these things without offering protection to my country and servicemen. That is what leads me to serve my country as so many have sacrificed their lives to give us such a great life,” he explains. "I tear up when I see protestors in Hong Kong holding the American flag. It has become the universal symbol of freedom." He feels that he owes it to his country to protect it after giving him so much. He knows that not everyone feels this way but feels strongly about the sacrifices made by others and the need for people who value their freedom to defend it on behalf of others.
When he was studying for his MCAT, Pericherla would wake up early to study. Nowadays, he usually rolls out of bed at 6 a.m., drinks coffee, does some yoga and then goes for a walk. He also likes reading and practicing mixed martial arts. Pericherla recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Nutrition Science (BS) program. He was attracted to Pitt SHRS due to its reputation as a leader in the field of health care education, and he enjoyed interacting with the faculty and staff. He studied Nutrition Science because he was interested in the preventative measures he could take to fuel the soldiers for combat, human recovery and physical training. Pericherla plans to use his knowledge from this program to provide nutritional support to soldiers to sustain optimal performance, improve recovery and enhance health outcomes.
In August, he will begin classes at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, which Pericherla describes as the medical school version of West Point. At the end of four years, you’re a physician, but a physician equipped with combat skills. "Most medical schools have public health classes, but my electives are Bioterrorism 101, Topics in Tropical Medicine, Intro to Nuclear Warfare and I get to repel out of a helicopter," Pericherla laughs. There are some major benefits, too—his tuition is completely funded by the U.S. government.
Combat doctors have all the traditional qualities of a civilian medical physician but on an amplified level. They have a fervent desire to sacrifice and must be prepared to fulfill their role while under attack. Pericherla says, “It takes grit. You should be the right person for the job.” Despite facing a battlefield of immense stress, he stays calm under pressure. He views every step of the way with enthusiasm and an optimistic outlook. “Basic training is 90 days of sunrises and sunsets. I’m going to take it one step at a time and enjoy the ride.”
The path to becoming a combat doctor is difficult and being one—having to make life or death decisions without hesitation—is an incredibly hard job. As Pericherla shares, “If you’re following this path, you must learn to embrace suffering and appreciate the challenge.”
Pericherla is the epitome of a driven individual. His passion motivates him in many ways—whether it be to wake up early to study or to gladly repel out of a helicopter. It's evident that he thrives on challenges and is driven to serve his country by being a combat surgeon. He concludes, “If you’re looking for an adventure or if you’re looking to push yourself, then you should consider this journey.” Ready to take the next steps towards learning how to fuel our troops for optimal performance and/or becoming a physician? Consider pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition Science from the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.