Erasmo “Doc” Riojas (August 1931 – ), PA, was born in Dolores, Texas. Twenty-two years of medical experience in the US Navy and as a Registered Nurse preceded Mr. Riojas’s decision to become a physician assistant.
Mr. Riojas is a seasoned veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam War. Entering into the U.S. Navy in September of 1948, Mr. Riojas graduated from Hospital Corpsmen School at the Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, California, in 1949 and was assigned to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. In 1950, he was sent to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to become a U.S. Marine Corps Field Medical Tech. Immediately afterwards, he was assigned ot the First Marine Division in Korea. Mr. Riojas then applied and graduated from a six month course in Deep Sea Diving School to become a Medical Diving Tech in 1955.
Before retiring from the Navy in 1970, he went on to become a Navy Frogman assigned as the Medical Representative of SEAL Team TWO. He was awarded a Purple Heart and several Medals of Valor for his service to his country. .
After retiring from the Navy, Mr. Riojas went to work as a respiratory technician at Norfolk Hospital in Virginia. While working in Virginia, he decided to return to his home state of Texas to enroll and graduate with an Associate Degree in Nursing (Registered Nurse) from El Centro College in Dallas, Texas, in 1972. The year after he graduated (1972), he worked as a RN in all of the intensive care units at Baylor Medical Center, Dallas, TX. The attending Cardiovascular Thoracic surgeons suggested that Mr. Riojas apply to the physician assistant program at the University of Texas School of Allied Health Sciences to better utilize his military and medical training and experience. He graduated from there with a Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant Studies in 1977.
Mr. Riojas completed his PA surgical rotation with the same two cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons at the Baylor Medical Center and later went to work with them, focusing on thoracic surgery. After two and a half years as a surgical PA, Mr. Riojas was encouraged to apply to a medical school. He immigrated to Mexico and in 1985, Mr. Riojas graduated at the top of his class from the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas in Tampico, Mexico.
Mr. Riojas is retired and resides in Pearland, TX.
Acknowledgments: This biography was written by the PA History Society with assistance from Mr. Riojas. The biography was originally written in 2011 and updated in December of 2018. All photographs are courtesy of Erasmo Riojas.