Athletic training faculty "did a really good job making sure when we were at an away game, we could independently assess and evaluate catastrophic injuries. That sense of independence and belief that you can do the job really carried over as a physician assistant.”
As a Boy Scout, Anthony LaCourse, ’91, always carried the first aid bag. But it wasn’t until he became a Bridgewater State student that he realized medicine was his professional calling.
“Bridgewater did a great job of getting me ready for what I do now,” said LaCourse, a captain and commanding officer of the 4th Medical Battalion.
Leading the battalion’s 650 Navy and Marine personnel is the latest challenge in LaCourse’s approximately three decades with the U.S. Navy Reserve. The physician assistant came to Bridgewater thinking he would study education and computer science. Long hours toiling over computer programming helped him realize that his role as a Boy Scout actually foreshadowed a career.
He switched to athletic training, where professors Cheryl Hitchings and Marcia Anderson ensured students had the skills and confidence to succeed. For LaCourse, those traits translated from the sports field to the battlefield.
“They did a really good job making sure when we were at an away game, we could independently assess and evaluate catastrophic injuries,” he said. “That sense of independence and belief that you can do the job really carried over as a physician assistant.”
Anderson recalled LaCourse's dedication to athletes and commitment to his education.
"He was an inquisitive student who enjoyed the challenges of not only learning the content area of athletic training, but the clinical application of that knowledge," she said.
After graduating from Bridgewater, LaCourse completed a physician assistant degree from Northeastern University. Alongside his military duties, his civilian jobs have included serving on a lung transplant team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in the emergency department at Taunton’s Morton Hospital and, currently, as a contractor at Newport Naval Clinic.
He has deployed to Africa, Japan, Kuwait, Italy, and Afghanistan caring for U.S. troops. Medical units are sometimes the only help available for hundreds of miles and their proximity to combat saves lives.
“We’re looking at new ways to put these capabilities as close to the front line as we can,” he said. “We’ll have an emergency medicine provider putting a chest tube into a patient 10 minutes after they got shot.”
The LaCourse family maintains its connection to Bridgewater as son Alex, ’25, is pursuing a degree in political science. Anthony LaCourse was thrilled to see Alex choose his alma mater and experience a tight-knit community that defined his college years.
“You knew everybody else on campus,” he said. “That sense of community is what drove a lot of people to stay at Bridgewater.”
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