A Doctor of Medicine, after all

There have been moments of wavering – like when he considered a career in bioengineering – and doubts – especially when it appeared he wouldn’t be accepted into medical school – but Blake Cohoe has always returned to his childhood dream of becoming a doctor.

Cohoe, a graduate of Washington State University’s School of Molecular Biosciences and the ROTC program, is now just two years away from realizing that dream by earning a Doctor of Medicine from the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine – the final step to becoming a physician in the U.S Air Force.

“I just recently hit the halfway mark of medical school and it has all become so real,” Cohoe said. “I am proud of myself for making it happen and thankful for those who have supported me along the way. I have been working at this for a long time and the end is right around the corner.”

As great as it feels to have his dream within reach, only two short years ago, it all appeared unlikely.

Graduation was approaching. He was among the top in his class; his Medical College Admission Test score was competitive; he had strong recommendation letters from respected professors; and his medical school interviews had gone well. He was also a standout member of the ROTC program, and the Air Force was prepared to award him a scholarship to pay for his studies. But he had yet to receive an acceptance letter.

With admission looking remote, the Air Force, for which he was committed to serving following the completion of his education, assigned him to a chemist position in Florida. Although disappointed, Cohoe viewed it as a temporary setback.

“I started looking at houses in Florida and had accepted that that was going to be my path,” Cohoe said. “I figured I would take a break from school and hopefully reapply in a few years.”

Then Cohoe received a request for a Zoom meeting from Dr. Leila Harrison, senior associate dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at the WSU College of Medicine.

“I logged in and there was Dean John Tomkowiak, and he said, ‘Blake, congratulations, we are happy to admit you,’ ” Cohoe said. “It was such a huge relief.”

Cohoe has excelled at the Spokane medical campus, despite being among the final members of his class admitted and among the youngest in his cohort. His drive to achieve his dream has not gone unnoticed by his peers, who elected him as student council president.

While Cohoe would never say medical school has been easy, he was well prepared for the rigors thanks to his experiences as a biochemistry major in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The biochemistry program is designed to prepare students for a variety of careers directly out of school or to pursue professional degrees in human medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, pharmacy and other fields.

“I felt like when I was an undergraduate, I was juggling more things than I am in medical school,” Cohoe said. “Since I have been at medical school, I have mostly been focused on medicine and doing good work, but when I was in Pullman, not only did I have difficult classes, I was part of so many different things, like the ROTC program and being a teaching assistant.”

When Cohoe graduates from medical school in 2024, he hopes to be selected for an orthopedics residency, which will take an additional five years to complete.

No matter where his dreams take him, he will always be grateful to WSU.

“Going to WSU means so much more than a degree – you really gain a family,” Cohoe said. “I met my girlfriend, Brooke, and some of my best friends, built leadership skills, and received a fantastic education. I take so much pride in being a Coug, and I plan on staying connected and involved as long as I can. This school has done a lot for me.”