USU Class of 2024 Medical Student Awarded Rare Military Honor

USU School of Medicine student Army 2nd Lt. Olivia Agee, class of 2024, earned the Army Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB).

Army 2nd Lt. Olivia Agee, left, in a forest setting, assisting a man with an "arm wound" during a field exercise scenario.
Graduating USU medical student Army 2nd Lt. Olivia Agee (left), class of 2024, recently earned 
the coveted Army Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB). (Photo courtesy of Army 2nd Lt. Olivia 

May 7, 2024 by Ian Neligh

Proving with enough preparation and grit even the most daunting challenges can be bested, Uniformed Services University (USU) School of Medicine (SOM) student Army 2nd Lt. Olivia Agee, class of 2024, recently earned the coveted Army Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB).

Army 2nd Lt. Olivia Agee stands with her arms behind her back in Army fatigues.
Agee took part in the week-long challenge
and endured a series of rigorous
assessments including written exams,
physical fitness evaluations, and land
navigation. (Photo courtesy of Army 2nd
Lt. Olivia Agee)
The famously difficult week-long challenge, which awards the military badge to those who successfully complete it, tests soldiers on their professional competence and physical endurance. 

Obtaining an Army special skill badge known for its difficulty requires candidates to endure a series of rigorous assessments including written exams, physical fitness evaluations, land navigation, warrior skills, and tactical combat casualty care — to name a few.

“I am grateful to have earned this badge and hope it will help me advocate for training and education opportunities for (Combat Medic Specialists) and other soldiers I may lead one day,” says Agee.

Agee grew up in an Air Force family, and while traveling a lot during her childhood, considers San Antonio, Texas home. She says she didn’t initially consider going into medicine like her parents, but a sports-related injury made her look at medicine in a whole new way.

“Both my parents were active duty and in the medical field my whole life, but it was not until I tore my ACL in high school that I began to consider a career in medicine,” says Agee. “I had so much appreciation towards my Orthopedic surgeon and physical therapists that helped me go from crutches to scoring goals on the soccer field again.”

Shortly after graduating high school, she reported to West Point for her undergraduate degree.

“At West Point, I learned more about Army medicine and also reflected on my parents’ experiences as military medical providers. Whether deployed or in a garrison environment, they found taking care of soldiers extremely rewarding,” Agee says.

According to Agee, by the end of her freshman year at West Point, she knew she wanted to pursue becoming a military doctor, and when the time was right she applied to medical school at USU.

“Similar to West Point, USU has given me far more than they ask for in return: a world-class education, freedom to pursue clinical opportunities in far away locations, and fantastic classmates,” Agee says. “I don’t think there is another medical school on this Earth that gives you such things.”

She says she became interested in trying to earn her EFMB badge because she knew it would challenge her in areas that she felt she needed to become stronger in — namely marksmanship and night land navigation. 

She added two of her USU classmates who successfully received their EFMB badges earlier this year, Army 2nd Lt. Perry Wiseman and Army 2nd Lt. Trey Nettles, were encouraging and helped her prepare for the difficult curriculum.

Agee attended the course hosted in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where a two-week “train-up” model is used before the testing begins. She said the first week consisted of walking candidates through each of the evaluations and the grading standards. During the second week, they conducted mock testing and offered additional hands-on training if needed.

In the third week, the examination began.

“Our course started with 55 people and ended up graduating with 26, which is a pretty high pass rate compared to the average 27 percent pass rate from fiscal year 2022,” Agee says.

Agee adds overall the course was tricky, but was surprised at how challenging she found the “medical lane” to be.

“Essentially, you must take care of three casualties, one conscious, two unconscious, with different injury patterns from the care under fire phase through tactical field care phase,” Agee says, adding the evaluation is limited to one hour and 45 minutes and a person can fail if any step is skipped or performed incorrectly.

“In order to prepare for that… my friends and I would verbalize and study nearly every night,” Agee says. “I even came up with the idea of making life-sized gingerbread silhouettes with medical tape on three of the barracks beds so that we could make a ‘mock’ (evaluation) and practice the scenario and all the interventions.”

Besides her success in receiving the EFMB, Agee is also part of the School of Medicine's graduating class of 2024.

“I am excited to begin this next chapter of my life but also sad to say goodbye to all of the great friends I have made,” Agee says.

Over the past two years, the USU School of Medicine has sent four students to EFMB and all have successfully earned the military badge.