Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

USAF doctor strives to advance women leaders in military medicine

Image of Photo of Dr. Yun. Click to open a larger version of the image. U.S. Air Force Col. (Dr.) Heather Yun, Deputy Commander for Medical Services, is an infectious disease physician playing a critical role in BAMC’s COVID-19 response. Yun, is a fourth-generation doctor who has tackled many roles over the course of her career – student, doctor, mentor, leader, wife, mother, singer, and endurance triathlete. (Photo by Jason Edwards)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Women's Health | Coronavirus

Air Force Col. (Dr.) Heather Yun is the epitome of being in the right place at the right time. Less than a month after she became the newest leader on the command team, Yun found herself perfectly situated to help shape Brooke Army Medical Center’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

Coincidence or just good fortune, the new deputy commander for medical services at the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston facility also happens to be an infectious disease physician, a specialty that’s accustomed to scrutinizing the globe for potential viral outbreaks and devising ways to contain them.

“I was fortunate to be in the command suite early on with the expertise and opportunity to ring those early warning bells and help put the pieces in motion,” Yun said.

Yun first became alarmed in January after reports emerged of a growing viral threat overseas. By the time it reached the U.S. via a traveler from Wuhan, China, later that month, Yun was already advocating for a forward-thinking and fast-moving plan to help protect the hospital’s staff and patients from the intensifying viral threat.

Collaborating with leaders across the organization, Yun helped form teams to tackle everything from personal protective equipment supply to medications to testing protocols. In March and with a national emergency declared, BAMC began implementing key aspects of that plan, to include a screening and testing site in the parking lot, curbside pharmacy and a delay in elective procedures.

Upon graduating from Yale University’s Medical School with support of an Air Force Health Professions Scholarship, she became her family’s fourth generation doctor and first Air Force officer. Her father had served in the Army and three of her four grandparents were Army World War II veterans, including a grandmother in the Army Nurse Corps.

Yun recalled how her grandfather, also a physician, had an above-the-knee amputation from a childhood infection, but was intent on serving. “During the war, you could get a waiver to serve as a physician if you had a below-the knee-amputation; he wanted to serve so he said his amputation was below-the-knee. No one checked until much later when it was time to come home again.”

Ingrained with that same determination, Yun moved on to a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in infectious disease at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. “I was fascinated by infectious disease; it’s a field that’s constantly challenging and ever-changing,” she said. “It also crosses over every specialty so we have tremendous opportunities to help a wide array of patients.”

“In ID, we obtain the story, the patient history that no one else gets,” Yun said. “We investigate to find the link between what is going on and what caused it.”  

In 2007, Yun moved with the infectious disease mission to BAMC and in her 20-year careers she has steadily climbed the ranks, serving most recently as the chief for the Department of Medicine before taking on a deputy commander role. When Yun isn’t leading the five major departments that fall in her leadership lane, she’s in scrubs conducting COVID-19 patient consults in the intensive care units and mentoring the infectious disease fellows at BAMC. Mentorship is a topic that’s always been near and dear to her heart, she said.

“I had amazing mentors and sponsors, both men and women, who supported me throughout my career,” she said.

“Over the years, I’ve had younger women tell me that it’s been important to have someone senior to them whose life looks like theirs.”

While the military has come a long way regarding females in the higher ranks, Yun sees more progress to come. To foster mentorship, Yun led the “Women in Medicine” program at BAMC for three years and helped pilot a coed military medicine mentorship program for physicians. Most recently, she became the command liaison for the new Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Navigating and integrating the challenges of work and home life hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been worth it. “I had to learn to have grace with myself, and to lean on my faith, my family and my colleagues,” she said.

“I just hope that when women look around the current landscape, they see strong leaders of every gender, race, ethnicity and background and, most importantly, their own potential.”

You also may be interested in...

DOD Official Discusses Conditions-Based Reopenings, Future of Telework

Article
8/19/2020
Man in full PPE spraying down a chair with sanitizer

Esper was clear from the start about his priorities in a pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

NMHM looks back at the 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ for one Maryland county

Article
8/19/2020
Black and white image of hospital beds lined up in rows, occupied by sick people

The 1918 flu resembled a more severe cold.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health

DHA proves power of collaboration in medical IT war games

Article
8/18/2020
Men and women in room sitting in front of their laptops

Open-source EHR proves worth in Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Technology

BAMC expands use of ECMO to treat severe COVID-19 patients

Article
8/18/2020
Medical personnel wearing masks, looking at paperwork on desk

This treatment...is used in the intensive care unit when a patient experiences heart and/or lung failure.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Air Force medics ‘go mobile’ to continue serving during COVID-19

Article
8/17/2020
Medical personnel wearing a mask, looking at a vial

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the 90th Medical Respiratory Clinic was created and designed to focus on patient care and safety.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

CDC updates symptoms list for COVID-19

Article
8/14/2020
Image of man putting on a mask. Click to open a larger version of the image.

Case numbers are up, but most people who become infected will recover

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Navy optometry tech finds path to service at NH Bremerton

Article
8/14/2020
Female soldier wearing a black mask

As part of our ‘I am Navy Medicine’ series, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Cruz Gabriela Gallardo, NMRTC Bremerton's Optometry Clinic and Optical Support Unit leading petty officer is highlighted.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Zama Middle High School counselor can help with COVID-19 stress, more

Article
8/13/2020
Woman in red dress sitting on chair and posing for the camera

Miller wants students and parents to know she is available for a wide variety of issues, including those related to COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | | Psychological Fitness

Camp Pendleton Marines and civilians donate blood to save others

Article
8/12/2020
Two people in masks giving blood

Marines line up to donate blood

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

DoD reiterates FDA warning on using some hand sanitizers

Article
8/11/2020
Image of three men in PPE examining bottles of hand sanitizer. Click to open a larger version of the image.

Gel hand sanitizers are flammable and consumers must be aware of their surroundings when using them.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Army general donates COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma at Tripler

Article
8/11/2020
Man wearing mask in hospital chair giving blood

COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate against who it infects – even general officers are susceptible.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

COVID-19 patient treated at Evans

Article
8/10/2020
Woman in wheelchair wearing a mask, being wheeled out of hospital surrounded by crowd applauding

During her stay, [Joyce Woffenden ] was also the first patient to receive convalescent plasma at EACH.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

New Navy units join in the fight against COVID-19

Article
8/7/2020
Military nurse putting on PPE

This deployment marked the first use of the newly established Acute Care Team and Rapid Rural Response Team medical platforms.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus

Air Force updates medical courses with COVID-19 content, procedures

Article
8/7/2020
Two lab technicians wearing full PPE handling vials for testing

COVID-19 has pushed instructors and trainers to be more innovative.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness | Combat Support

Force Health Protection Guidance (Supplement 12) -Department of Defense Guidance for Personnel Traveling During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

Publication
8/6/2020

This memorandum supplements requirements in references (a), (b), and (c) with respect to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and replaces reference (d). It provides pre- and post­travel guidance for purposes of force health protection (FHP) of Service members, DoD family members, DoD civilian employees, and DoD contractor personnel.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus
<< < ... 21 22 23 24 25  ... > >> 
Showing results 361 - 375 Page 25 of 36

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.