Five surgery residents were promoted to the rank of major in the United States Air Force during a special ceremony Tuesday at the UC Davis Health Education Building. They were surrounded by friends, colleagues and family.
“Being promoted is a rite of passage. It represents both a recognition of what has been done and an expectation of things to come,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Scott Zakaluzny, a volunteer assistant clinical professor in the Department of Surgery.
“Having the ceremony here at UC Davis amongst their peers is an excellent opportunity to recognize this accomplishment in a public way,” he added. “It also reminds everyone that military residents have taken on an obligation to serve their country.”
Being promoted is a rite of passage – it represents both a recognition of what has been done and an expectation of things to come. Having the ceremony here at UC Davis amongst their peers is an excellent opportunity to recognize this accomplishment in a public way. It also reminds everyone that military residents have taken on an obligation to serve their country.”
The surgery training program at UC Davis Health includes slots for military residents who spend six years at UC Davis Medical Center and Travis Air Force Base. They also complete one year of required research.
One of the unique advantages of the program is that active-duty military residents can perform an "active-duty residency" while receiving military pay and accruing time in the service. They also gain the advantage of caring for community patients at predominantly civilian sites. This learning-rich environment allows military residents to develop exceptional clinical skills and pursue research opportunities.
At the promotion ceremony, commanding officers delivered remarks, then each resident was pinned with an insignia of an oak leaf on the shoulders of their dress blues. The pinning was done by someone close to them, such as surgery colleagues, friends, parents, siblings, a spouse or young children. Afterward, they each took the Oath of Office, which serves as reminder of their obligation to their service and country.
The residents promoted from captain to major are:
- Nicholas F. Antonino, general surgery
- Joel P. Harding, vascular surgery
- Cara G. Pozolo, vascular surgery
- Ashly C. Ruf, general surgery
- Elan A. Sherazeem, general surgery
“The partnership between the Air Force and UC Davis is very unique, it’s one of a very few in the country,” said newly promoted Maj. Ashly Ruf. “Having our ceremony done here is just one way to continue to incorporate that relationship because not only is it our military family that has helped us take the next step in our career, but just as important, is our UC Davis family. They are the ones who for the past six years have really helped support us to get us to where we are.”
The UC Davis Department of Surgery has a long-standing commitment to advocating for military service members and veterans in Northern California. The relationship between the department and the military dates back 44 years to the arrival of F. William Blaisdell, former UC Davis surgery department chair who is often referred to as the father of trauma care. Blaisdell recognized the need for advancements in surgical care, particularly in areas of vascular, trauma, and research, and forged a strong partnership with the Veteran’s Affairs Health care System.
In 1995, UC Davis Health formalized its collaboration with the David Grant U.S. Air Force Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, establishing a special partnership to provide training for military surgeons.
The relationship benefits UC Davis medical school residents who receive surgical training at Travis. The arrangement, formally called the Program for Military Surgical Education, also offers unique and robust training opportunities for military surgeons and trainees at national and international levels.