Childhood dream becomes reality for MacDill sergeant

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tori Schultz
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

It’s been a pretty long journey for me,” said Tech. Sgt. Jessica Grogan, contracting officer and team lead with the 6th Contracting Squadron. “I have been going to school for the last 10 years and have often been discouraged thinking about all the school I’ve completed without earning that piece of paper.”

From a young age, Grogan, a Waukesha, Wisconsin native, had dreams of becoming a doctor. She got closer to that dream when was notified April 8, 2016 that she was accepted into the Interservice Physician Assistant Program (IPAP) through the Air Force.

"The 29-month program is open to enlisted, officer and academy and reserve officer training corps cadets," said Kevin Smith, Air Force Personnel Center biomedical sciences corps education manager.

During her first enlistment, Grogan was a weather forecaster. While she enjoyed the weather career field she eventually decided to retrain into contracting for more stable work hours and to experience something new.

“With weather, there is a lot of shift work,” said Grogan. “Trying to balance school and an ever-changing schedule can get pretty tough.”

Grogan first applied to the Airman Enlisted Commissioning Program in 2009 for nursing, but wasn’t selected because she didn’t have enough time on station. She now sees that experience as a blessing in disguise.

“I was pretty discouraged after that, but eventually picked myself back up and found my second wind,” said Grogan. “I decided to not only try again, but instead to apply for a master’s level program, which is what I really wanted to do. The challenge and pace of this program is something that is definitely more in my wheel house.”

Grogan slowly began chipping away at the prerequisites required for the program after she finished her career development courses. The program requires at least 60 semester hours of college to include Chemistry I & II, Biology, Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology I & II, Algebra, Psychology, Medical Terminology, English I & II and social sciences.

“I also had to take the scholastic assessment test, complete a video interview, complete 30 plus hours of shadowing a physician assistant at the clinic, and submit six letters of recommendation along with a few other administrative things,” said Grogan.

Grogan came across multiple challenges along her journey, but refused to let them get in her way.

“Between deployments, temporary duty assignments, permanent change of stations (PCS), and just life in general, there were so many times when giving up would have been easier and justified,” said Grogan. “However, I was blessed with truly amazing and supportive leadership and their trust and belief in me was and is still so motivating.”

Grogan will PCS to Fort Sam Houston, Texas in March to begin her Phase I training for 16 months and will graduate with her bachelor’s degree. From there she will PCS to an Air Force hospital to complete the Phase II portion and receive her master’s.

“I’ll complete commissioned officer training and commission as a first lieutenant and start my new career as an Air Force physician assistant,” said Grogan. “This has been my ‘future goal’…, so it’s unbelievable that it’s about to be reality.”


Now that Grogan has met her goal, she’s ready to buckle down and focus on the schooling she has in front of her.


“The IPAP program is known for being extremely intense and I have often heard the comparison of drinking water through a firehose,” said Grogan. “I’m ready to focus on being the most attentive, informed, and knowledgeable physician assistant that I can be.”


The path to achieving her goal was filled with twists, turns and bumps in the road, but after 10 years of hard work she has reached her objective.


“I knew eventually that all this sprinting uphill would pay off,” said Grogan. “In life, with all things, to grow, one must embrace the discomfort. There are so many opportunities available through the Air Force, which is why I love it so much!”