A Warrior for the Warriors

U.S. Army Capt. Christopher Donaghe Wins Physician Assistant of the Year for Europe and Africa

U.S. Army Capt. Christopher Donaghe (L) receives award
from Brig. Gen. Mark Thompson

Whether it’s caring for parachuting soldiers in the Moroccan desert, training Cypriot army special forces in tactical combat casualty care or rapidly deploying to Latvia during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Army Capt. Christopher Donaghe (‘11), known to his soldiers as Capt. D., is the physician assistant (P.A.) soldiers want on their side.

Based in Vincenza, Italy, Donaghe is currently assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment called “The Rock” of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He is the primary care manager for more than 700 Sky Soldiers (paratroopers) and among numerous other duties is responsible for their medical readiness for rapid deployment around the world.

Donaghe was awarded the U.S. Army Europe and Africa Physician Assistant of the Year Award last year for his selfless care of hundreds of Sky Soldiers.

“To be honest, getting that award was very humbling,” said Capt. D. “I don’t really like to talk about myself or my achievements because I don’t do it for those reasons. It was nice to be recognized, but to me it was more of a reflection of how awesome my medics are and how good of a medical team we have and all the hard work they put in on a daily basis.”

During his studies at Georgia Southern, Donaghe says his human anatomy class got him interested in the medical and clinical field.

“Georgia Southern, at the time, had one of the few undergraduate anatomy classes that got to work on human cadavers in the lab,” he said. “I always liked studying the body, so that definitely had an impact on my future.”

Donaghe received an ROTC scholarship during his sophomore year. Focusing on exercise science, he wanted to go to medical or P.A. school, but that didn’t happen at first.

“The Army doesn’t let new undergraduates go straight into P.A. school,” he explained. “I wanted to be a Blackhawk medevac helicopter pilot and got into flight school when I commissioned, but a back injury during training grounded me. Since I was already a medical service corps officer, I continued down that path.”

Donaghe worked as an executive officer, deployed to Afghanistan as a medical advisor for the Afghan police, took a position at the hospital in San Antonio, Texas, where he was the administrative officer for the department of surgery, then was a company commander.

“It’s actually kind of cool about connections from Georgia Southern. When I was in my company command position in San Antonio, my brigade commander was also a graduate of Georgia Southern. We would go up to San Marcos anytime Georgia Southern would play Texas State because it was right up the road.”

It was during his command time that Donaghe decided he had “to get my act together for P.A. school”.

Army P.A. school required more courses to finish up a second bachelor’s degree. After receiving his bachelor of science degree, Donaghe went through the classroom portion of P.A. school in San Antonio. He then underwent a clinical rotation in Germany to earn his master’s and Physician Assistant certification.

Since receiving his award, Donaghe has been equally busy. He earned his Expert Field Medical Badge, a very difficult Army badge to obtain. Only 27% of those who participate earn the badge. He also earned his Army Parachutist Badge also known as “Jump Wings.”

Donaghe says he’s still not finished. He has been accepted into the U.S. Army/Baylor University Orthopedic Physician Assistant Residency and Doctoral Program. It’s an 18-month program with a 36-month utilization assignment, then he’ll receive his doctor of science degree.

Among all his accolades, however, he says the degree from Georgia Southern has been one of his most notable and influential.

“Georgia Southern is a very well known ROTC program and we have quite a few alumni. It’s like in the civilian world, your alumni connections don’t necessarily get you the job, but they help you get the interview.

“When I tell people in the Army that I went to Georgia Southern, they know exactly who Georgia Southern is.”— Liz Walker

Donaghe (2nd from L) with Army medics and Spanish army medical personnel
after training in Latvia