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

USAF doctor strives to advance women leaders in military medicine

Photo of Dr. Yun 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 | Heroes Behind the Mask

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...

Military Medicine Joining Forces to Fight COVID-19 All Around the World

Article
7/17/2020
A group of military personnel posing for a picture

Multiple commands from the Navy and Air Force responded to the request with personnel from all over the country.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Combat Support

Army Healthcare Professionals share their call to serve

Article
7/16/2020
Scientist looking at samples in test tubes in a lab.

The Army provides no cost job training with pay and benefits to those who enlist for healthcare specialties.

Recommended Content:

Heroes Behind the Mask

DoD Leverages GEIS Respiratory Surveillance to Respond to COVID-19

Article
7/15/2020
Three men in a pig pen taking samples

AFHSB’s Global Emerging Infection Surveillance (GEIS) program manages a global laboratory network to detect emergent diseases and track respiratory illnesses such as influenza.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Coronavirus

Innovative RX pad creates path for prescribing mobile health technology

Article
7/15/2020
Military health care provider demonstrates the use of the T2 Mood Tracker app to a patient.

Technology and healthcare are constantly evolving fields.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health

DHA Director and Senior Enlisted Leader visit Branch Health Clinic Everett

Article
7/15/2020
Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place viewing a drive-through pharmacy

NHB, along with Branch Health Clinics Bangor, Everett and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard transitioned administration and management oversight to DHA in the fall of 2019.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

BAMC adapts to support greater San Antonio community during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
7/15/2020
Doctor checking soldier's heartbeat

BAMC is the only Level I Trauma Center within the Department of Defense and one of two within San Antonio.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask

Life support training continues for MHS clinical staff

Article
7/14/2020
Students are socially distanced in a life support training class

How do clinical staff social distance and deliver CPR training?

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Applying COVID-19 innovations to the future of MHS medicine

Article
7/14/2020
Virtual health visits are expanding in response to COVID-19.

COVID-19 has already irrevocably changed how we deliver care and will continue to do so.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation

U.S. military deploys to Texas and California in support of COVID-19 operations

Article
7/14/2020
Medical personnel in a hospital room

[A]pproximately 740 Department of Defense medical and support professionals from the Army, Navy and Air Force deployed to support COVID-19 operations in Texas and California.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Defending the Homeland: COVID-19 Asymptomatic Testing Clinic opens at NMRTC Bremerton

Article
7/13/2020
Soldier getting a nasal swab test for COVID-19

[S]tanding up the CAT clinic will assist in identifying asymptomatic COVID-positive individuals and assist the continual effort to stop the spread of the pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

DHA's new app assists providers with treating infectious diseases

Article
7/10/2020
Medical personnel putting gloves on

This progressive web application provides faster updates to content and function than traditional apps.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Connected Health

For some, working from home brings neck and back pain

Article
7/10/2020
Chiropractor adjusting another man's back

"[T]he most common complaint of teleworkers is neck and upper back pain between the shoulder blades."

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health

Defending the Homeland: New Invention Helps Protect Healthcare Workers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Article
7/9/2020
Image of medical personnel in hospital room

"[T]he team realized that while the CAMIC would function well for tracheostomy, its true use would be for intubation..."

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation

Defending the Homeland: Fort Knox Safety Official Donates COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma to Help Others

Article
7/8/2020
Woman sitting in chair giving blood

[T]he process involves a machine that uses three bags to collect and separate the plasma from the blood.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

Summer’s here – stay safe!

Article
7/8/2020
Image of Coast Guard employee talking with man on boat

Remember these tips while enjoying the summer

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | Summer Safety | Total Force Fitness
<< < ... 16 17 18 19 20  ... > >> 
Showing results 241 - 255 Page 17 of 26

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.