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Eric T. Vaughn, MD ’91

Colonel Eric T. Vaughn, MD, Illinois State Air Surgeon, Joint Force Headquarters Illinois Air National Guard, exemplifies clinical excellence and service to others.

A gifted general and trauma surgeon and wound care specialist, Vaughn successfully accomplished his lifelong dream of becoming a physician. After graduating from the St. Louis public school system, he entered college pursuing pre-med. During his time in undergrad he acquired a paramedic license from Forest Park Community College. While working as a paramedic covering an event at Busch Stadium, he successfully resuscitated a patron during a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. Afterwards he told the physician working at the ballpark of his dream to practice medicine. This physician happened to be Dr. Joe Leavitt (at the time head of diabetes research at Washington University).

Vaughn completed a bachelor of science in biology at University of Missouri-St. Louis and subsequently matriculated to Washington University School of Medicine. During his third year of medical school, he joined the Air National Guard, with the 131st Fighter Wing at Lambert Airport being his first base assignment. While completing his fourth year course work he also completed his Air Force Aerospace Medicine Training, graduating that year as a physician and a flight surgeon. He subsequently completed his internship at Vanderbilt University and residency at Howard University. He continued his military service throughout his residency, including tours to Europe and the Middle East. Upon completing his residency in General Surgery in 1998, he moved to Chicago where he worked at Loyola University as assistant professor of surgery. He has since started his own surgical practice (Suburban Surgical Specialists) and is affiliated with the Alexian Brothers and Advocate Health Systems in Chicago.

Even while maintaining a busy surgical practice, Vaughn continued his military service. After moving to Chicago, he joined the Illinois Air National Guard and continued his work as a flight surgeon. His voluntary service has led to numerous overseas deployments, with his skill as a surgeon equally balanced by his passion for service and his strong interpersonal and leadership skills. In more than 18 years of service in the Illinois Air Guard, his commander has not seen Vaughn miss a single Unit Training Assembly or “Drill Weekend”. Over the years, he has risen to the rank of colonel and functioned as the Chief of Aerospace Medicine and Chief of Professional Services, as well as Interim Hospital Commander. In 2015, following a two month tour of duty to the Middle East, he was named the State Air Surgeon for Illinois (Advisor to The Adjutant General of Illinois and lead Flight Surgeon for the three Illinois Air Guard bases) and serves at the Joint Force Headquarters in Springfield.

Mentored through his formative years as a physician, Vaughn, in turn, is also recognized by his colleagues as a superb mentor in his own right. He shares his deployment experiences and trauma expertise with young airmen as well as those who work with him in suburban Chicago. All note that his trauma and critical care skills are par excellence. His personal demeanor with patients is extraordinary, and he is consistently recognized for his ability to process and handle multiple situations with calm yet keen focus.

For his exceptional contributions to the fi eld of trauma care and for his selfless service to his state and country, the Washington University Medical Center Alumni Association is pleased to honor Dr. Vaughn with its Alumni Achievement Award.

Published: 03/05/2017