Meet your new 56th Medical Group Commander

  • Published
  • By Col. Yolanda Bledsoe
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office got to sit down with Colonel Yolanda Bledsoe, the new 56th Medical Group commander, and ask her about her leadership style and future goals for the 56th Medical Group:

What is your first impression of Luke AFB? The people here? The mission?


After spending a year in Alaska and traveling over 3700 miles to get to Arizona, I absolutely love the sunshine! Although, I think I will miss the wildlife in Alaska (Bears and Moose). The people here are wonderful; everyone has made our transition seamless.

It is truly and honor and I am excited to optimize performance and ensure medical readiness of our human weapon systems as they become the world's greatest F-16 fighter pilots and maintainers.

What will be your main priorities starting out as the new MDG Commander?

1. Quality Patient Care: Providing quality patient care and finding ways to safely say yes to our internal and external customers. Keeping our fighters in the air and our maintainers/crew chiefs fixing planes and personnel ready for deployments. While are the same time fostering relationships within our local community to continue to provide outstanding care for our family members, retirees and other beneficiary populations.

2. Focusing on our Team: We have several big inspections coming over the next several months and my focus will be on our team. Getting to know them and preparing us for our upcoming Unit Compliance Inspections, Health Service Inspection and the Ambulatory Health Care Accreditation Survey. The 56 Medical Group was named the 2010 Best Clinic in the AF, but I don't want to rest on our laurels. We have work to do to ensure we are all moving in the right direction and providing quality care everyday! (as well as during the inspection team)

3. Communication: Developing and fostering partnerships and relationships with internal and external base customers. Relationships are crucial to building trust, confidence and camaraderie throughout the community.

What makes a good leader and how do you plan to implement those practices here?

I feel like a good leader should provide: DIRECTION: Effective leaders should have an innate purpose in everything they do and be passionate and committed about that purpose every day. Additionally, in order to move that purpose/vision forward, leaders must gain and maintain TRUST within their organization. That doesn't happen overnight, it is a slow process that happens over time. However, I think caring for your staff and being candid with them, being reliable and competent go a long way to paving a solid foundation. While I would like to say things will always go well, I am not the naive to think so, that is why leaders must always have HOPE...that extra confidence/optimism that things will work out for the best, and has the ability to invigorate staff and energize everyone, when things are cloudy! Finally, RESULTS are important to every organization. To attain results leaders must have a predisposition toward action and taking or mitigating risks when appropriate.

In order to implement these practices here at the 56 MDG, I (our exec team) will provide clear goals and direction. Provide consistency and reliability to our customers both internal and external will help continue to foster their trust in our ability to provide quality patient care. I come to work every day committed and passionate about "finding ways to safely say yes" to our customers and have the confidence our staff to find creative ways to continue providing excellent healthcare to our beneficiary population.

What is your background? Where are you from? How did you come to join the Air Force and what led you to the Medical side of things?

I am an Air Force Nurse; I started out my career with an Obstetrical-Gynecological Internship at Langley AFB and from there branched out into other areas of the medical career field.

I am originally from Richmond, Virginia. My family has a long history in the Armed Forces. My paternal grandfather was in the Navy, my Dad served in the Air Force and all of my uncles followed suit. They have all served in the Army, Navy and most recently his youngest brother just retired from the Air Force 10 years ago. Additionally, my brother served in the Army. While not my initial choice as a career, once commissioned, it was easy to see why they all served.

Being in the military is a higher calling, it so much more than my specialty. It is about being an Airman and answering our nations call to care for the men and women who stand on the line to ensure we maintain the "freedoms" we hold so dearly!

I always wanted to be in the medical career field. My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer when I was a senior in high school and the nurses did an excellent job caring for her! So, her struggle motivates me each day to be compassionate and to find ways to provide quality patient care.

For more stories about the 56th Medical Group, please check out the June 30 edition of the Thunderbolt.