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From Fires to Medicine, Thanks to Philosophy

Senior Bradley Bruce switched his career to follow his passion for medicine, all with the help of a philosophy degree

Like so many of his fellow philosophy majors, Bradley Bruce takes philosophy seriously.

President of the Philosophy Club, Bruce is also a member of Pi Sigma Tau, the national philosophy honor society. Also like so many of his fellow philosophers, Bruce’s path to his degree was not a straight line. Before learning of his love for philosophy, he spent his summers fighting wildfires for the U.S. Forest Service.

“At 18 years old, I thought it was kind of like an exciting, cool, novel thing to try out — that’s what really drew me to it,” he said. “And what kept me in it was the money, on the one hand, and the few moments where there was an adrenaline rush or an exciting call.”

Bruce originally majored in fire ecology and was a resident in the Moscow Volunteer Fire Department program that offered him free room and board. He wasn’t enthusiastic enough about his studies, however, and dropped out in 2012 after he was offered a position as a seasonal firefighter and emergency medical technician in Nevada for a municipal fire department.

It did not take long until Bruce, currently 26 years old, realized he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life fighting fires. That’s what prompted his return to his hometown of Moscow, ID and U of I.

“I thought about starting a career down there, but I wasn’t really wild about where I was at. It was a great job as a young person, but I wanted something else,” he said. “I decided, ‘Well, I should probably get back to school and finish my degree,’ so I came back.”

When he rejoined the Vandal Family, Bruce soon discovered the Department of Politics and Philosophy.

“Philosophy was definitely something I was interested in and wanted to keep pursing in an academic setting,” he said. “It was the last time I changed my major — I’ve never really looked back.”

Studying philosophy equipped Bruce with critical thinking, writing and problem-solving abilities, he said. Bruce plans to apply these skills to a career in medicine, with plans to enroll in a physician’s assistant or medical doctor program following his graduation in May.

Although some might think his interests are dissimilar, Bruce said his emphasis in medicine and philosophy give him an advantage over his peers and an opportunity to stand out.

“People know that you’re well-rounded — you’ve focused on other aspects of your education, not just science courses,” he said. “It helps you stand out, and admissions committees know the value of a philosophy degree.”

Bruce said philosophy applies not only to medicine, but to all aspects of human life, even if people sometimes fail to recognize it.

“Anywhere you find human beings creating cultures and societies or inquiring about the world around them, philosophy has a place,” Bruce said. “Wherever I end up, I think I’ll be pretty satisfied because I’ll still be in a position to ask questions and search for solutions — which is the whole point of philosophy.”

Article by Olivia Heersink
Photos by Melissa Hartley
Published April 2019


Department of Politics and Philosophy

Physical Address:
205 Administration Building

Mailing Address:
Department of Politics and Philosophy
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3165
Moscow, ID 83844-3165

Phone: 208-885-6328