Making the most of second chances

To call Brian Ferguson, D.O.’15, M.P.H.’15, a “Renaissance man” would be an understatement. Prior to enrolling at DMU, he was an astrophysics data and research analyst for the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates the science program for the NASA Hubble telescope, as well as a competitive gymnast on the trampoline. He decided to pursue medicine to contribute to improving people’s health.

While he was competing in USA Gymnastics trampoline and tumbling, he pursued dual degrees in DMU’s osteopathic medicine and public health programs. He also experienced an eight-week internship with the World Health Organization during which he wrote proposals and advocated for funding to address the international problem of poor early childhood growth and development.

Now an active-duty emergency medical physician in the U.S. Air Force, Ferguson works at a trauma center, Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, MS – that is, when he isn’t flying overseas on a C-17 ICU biocontainment aircraft to fetch U.S. citizens in other countries who are extremely sick with an infectious pathogen, such as the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) or Ebola. In the last few months while completing his second deployment with the Air Force, he’s been to Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Jordan, Niger and Qatar, to name a few places.

He spent his first deployment embedded with a Marine Special Operations Team in the Southern Arabian Peninsula, during which he wrote his first novel, The Keeper of Keys. Published in January, the book is about a couple who desperately long for a child and then have their hope fulfilled. Yet the blessing comes with complications.

“I learned from my mentors at DMU—Dr. Amy Shriver and Dr. Gary Hoff—that sometimes the best doctors are people who are well-rounded and make the most of the time they have,” he says.

Ferguson wrote The Keeper of Keys initially as a gift to his wife, Alyssa, after the couple struggled to get pregnant before the birth of their children, Connor and Elijah. She is credited as one of the book’s three editors.

“Without her, there is no way this book would be published,” he says. “The main character has her voice. I heard her in my head the whole time I wrote it.”

A skiing accident when he was an undergraduate helps fuel his motivation. “I broke my neck in two places, lost my kidney and had a category 5 laceration to my liver, along with other issues from which God saved me,” he says. “I try not to forget this second chance—and I want to do the most with the time that I have been given.”

Yet another hat Ferguson wears is as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Wellness, a peer-reviewed, open-access indexed journal about how to stay well in medical practice. He launched the journal in 2019 with Martin Huecker, M.D., an assistant professor in the emergency medicine department at the University of Louisville, where Ferguson completed his residency. Currently in its third volume, it recently was accredited with inclusion in the Directory of Open Access Journals and, as of this writing, was only a few articles away from inclusion in PubMed, the free online archive of the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

“I’m excited about it and how it’s really taken off,” Ferguson says. “On the editorial board we now have 67 experts in wellness and resilience representing universities from Mayo to Mount Sinai to Harvard. It is free to submit, free to read and open to all realms of clinical practice.”

This Renaissance man plans to keep focus on his priorities of family and faith while continuing medical practice and fiction and nonfiction writing.

“Science is so important in knowing the latest and greatest; the humanities keep my soul in it,” he says.

For more information about Brian Ferguson and the Journal of Wellness, visit, and Information about The Keeper of Keys is available on his website and

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