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From Whidbey General Hospital to the USS George Washington

Dr. Bruce Waterman, M.D., will have to get used to a new title in the coming months, that of lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy.

The Whidbey General Hospital family medicine physician was commissioned in October and will begin Officer Development School on Jan. 3 in Newport, R.I. Afterwards, he’ll transition to Yokosuka, Japan with his wife, Kate.

Waterman will spend six months or more each year aboard the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier commissioned July 4, 1992.

Instead of treating patients like he did in the Whidbey General emergency room, Waterman will attend to sailors aboard the ship.

“It’s an opportunity to see new places and do new things,” he said. Waterman chose to make the 20-year career change because it was “just the right time.”

“It’s something I wanted to do before medical school,” he said. “This just came up in the last year or so and it’s now or never.”

Waterman is excited for the opportunity, but sad to leave the Whidbey General community.

“It’s been 10 very good years,” he said of his time at Whidbey General.

Neither Waterman nor his wife speak Japanese, but they’re learning together.

“She’s much better at it than I am,” he said of Kate, who traveled through South America and also speaks Spanish.

As a young medical student, Waterman was under the impression that doctors earned a high income. But that’s not so, he said.

“Medicine is not something you do for the money,” he said. “Same with the Navy. It’s something you do because you want to serve.”

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