John M Wightman


Department of Primary Appointment:
School of Medicine
Military and Emergency Medicine
Location: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD
Research Interests:
Undergraduate Medical Education
Prehospital Emergency Care


University of Illinois - Chicago; Residency in Emergency Medicine 1991
University of Missouri - Columbia; MD with MA in physiology 1988
University of Missouri - St Louis; BA in chemistry 1983
Colorado State University; minor in computer science 1980


Dr Wightman began his career as an Emergency Medical Technician in Loveland, Colorado, and as a Paramedic in St Louis, Missouri. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry, a Master’s Degree in Physiology, and a Doctor of Medicine—all from the University of Missouri—then completed his emergency medicine residency in the University of Illinois system in Chicago. Sworn into the US Air Force Reserves in 1990, he served as an emergency or critical-care physician and command staff officer during six combat operations and nineteen special-operations deployments supporting humanitarian, peacekeeping, and counter-terrorism missions. He retired as a Colonel in July 2022 after 32 in uniform. Dr Wightman has an extensive academic background in basic and clinical sciences, is an award-winning educator, and has served on numerous national committees. He was the first person on continuous active duty to be promoted to Professor of Emergency Medicine in any medical school—initially at Wright State University in 2005 then at the Uniformed Services University. As Chair of the Department of Military & Emergency Medicine 2018-2022, Dr Wightman led over 100 faculty and staff conducting military requirements-driven research and educating more than 700 medical students and nurses in military field medicine, military medical practice, and military medical leadership. The military-unique curriculum prepares officers for their roles as healthcare providers, leaders, and advisers to line commanders on medical issues as well as provide and oversee the full spectrum of joint health services for garrison and deployed forces. He now volunteers contributions to USU mission domains of education, medical-education research, and the scholarships of teaching, integration, and application.

Career Highlights: Positions, Projects, Deployements, Awards and Additional Publications

Professor and Chair: Dept of Military & Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University; Bethesda, Maryland 2018-2022

Wing Surgeon and Special Tactics Chief Medical Officer: 24th Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command; Hurlburt Field, Florida 2016-2018

Director, Human Research Protections and Biosurety Programs: 711th Human Performance Wing, Air Force Research Laboratory; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio 2014-2016

Master Clinician & Master Academician: 88th Medical Operations Squadron; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio 2006-2014

Team Leader, Subject-Matter Expert Exchange: Operation PACIFIC ANGEL; Socialist Republic of Viet Nam 2015

Combat deployments as an emergency physician: Zagreb, Croatia 1995-1996; Joint Base Balad, Iraq 2008-9009; Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan 2010-2011

Combat deployments as an intensivist on Critical Care Air Transport Teams: Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan 2003; Ramstein Air Base, Germany 2004 & 2005

FAA pilot certificate [rotocraft category – helicopter class] 2002

CME Editor or Associate Editor: Journal of Special Operations Medicine; St Petersburg, Florida 2001-present

William P Clements Award as USUHS Class of 2001's Outstanding Military Educator; Bethesda, Maryland 2001

Representative Bibliography

Cole R, Wightman JM. Impact of a multiday, high-fidelity, immersive simulation on medical students’ self-confidence. Military Medicine. 2023; 188(suppl 3):21-27.

Wightman JM. Preparing medical students for disaster response. Military Medicine. 2021; 186(11/12):324-326.

Wightman JM. Radial pulse quality as a diagnostic test in Tactical Combat Casualty Care. Military Medicine. 2020; 185(11/12):484-486.

Wightman JM. First receivers: managing blast injuries upon hospital arrival. In Callaway DW, Burnstein JL, Champion HC, Wightman JM, Sánchez LD, Thomas BW, Pamplin JC, Nemeth I [eds]: Operational and Medical Management of Explosive and Blast Incidents (Springer Nature: Cham, Switzerland; 2020), pp 289-311.

DeMers G, Wightman J. Mass-casualty preparedness and response. In O’Connor FG, Schoomaker EB, Smith DC [eds]: The Fundamentals of Military Medicine (Borden Institute: Ft Sam Houston, Texas; 2019), pp 503-529.

Wightman JM, Dice WH. Winter storms and hazards. In Koenig KA, Schultz CH [eds]: Koenig & Schultz’s Disaster Medicine: Comprehensive Principles and Practices [ed 2] (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, United Kingdom; 2016), pp 670-691.

Burns GD, Wightman JM. Explosive events. In Koenig KA, Schultz CH [eds]: Koenig & Schultz’s Disaster Medicine: Comprehensive Principles and Practices [ed 2] (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, United Kingdom; 2016), pp 463-485.

Sharp TW, Wightman JM, Davis MJ, Sherman SS, Burkle FM. Military assistance in complex humanitarian emergencies: what have we learned since the Kurdish relief effort? Prehospital and Disaster Medicine. 2001; 16(4):197-208.

Keim SM, Rein JA, Chisholm C, Dyne PL, Hendey GW, Jouriles NJ, King RW, Schrading W, Salomone J, Swart G, Wightman JM. A standardized letter of recommendation for residency application. Academic Emergency Medicine. 1999; 6(11):1141-1146.

Wightman JM, Hurley LD. Emergency department management of eye injuries. Critical Decisions in Emergency Medicine. 1998; 12(7):1-11.