William Adkins, MD, FACOG, Lakeview OB/GYN
Capt., U.S. Naval Medical Corps Reserve (Ret)
Without the military, Dr. William Adkins is certain that he wouldn’t have built a long, successful career in medicine. He’s not even sure he would have gone to college.
Forty years of service in the Air Force and Navy, including active duty and reserves in both branches, boosted his self-confidence, earned him money for higher education, sharpened his clinical skills, and took him around the world.
“The opportunity to serve my country prepared me to treat all types of patients and go wherever I was needed,” Dr. Adkins says. “I don’t regret a single minute. The military builds character and helps you grow up.”
Often, specialty physicians in the military are the only specialists of their kind at a facility. “You receive very high-quality training, but then you have to be able to handle patients on your own,” he says. “If you want help, you look in the mirror.”
At Lakeview Obstetrics & Gynecology, a Bayview Physicians Group practice in Suffolk, Dr. Adkins is known as a team player and skilled clinician who has gone above and beyond for patients since 1985.
Yet after high school, Dr. Adkins wasn’t considering becoming a physician. The Portsmouth native was working for General Electric and singing in a band when he enlisted in the Air Force in 1968 amidst the Vietnam War draft. He was 19 when he arrived at boot camp in Texas and spent his 20th birthday on kitchen duty.
After completing advanced electronics training in Mississippi, where he lived through Hurricane Camille, Dr. Adkins spent two years as a staff sergeant in Thailand. He worked on F-4 fighter jets flying in Vietnam, threatened only by occasional snipers who tried to access the base.
“I was fortunate that I wasn’t right in the middle of things,” he notes.
Back in America, Dr. Adkins stayed in the Air Force Reserve and used GI Bill benefits to study psychology at Old Dominion University. Thinking of becoming a psychiatrist, he applied for Air Force and Navy scholarships to attend Eastern Virginia Medical School. The Navy said yes, the Air Force lost his paperwork, so he made the easy decision to switch branches.
Pivoting to OB/GYN, Dr. Adkins graduated from EVMS in 1979 and completed an internship and residency at Naval National Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, respectively.
During six years on active duty in the Navy, Dr. Adkins’ stations included Rota, Spain, and Naples, Italy, a family favorite. The oldest of his three daughters picked up Italian at age 4 and now works as a program manager for a translation company. All of his girls loved the many on-base activities. “The military benefited my whole family,” he says.
Once in private practice, Dr. Adkins remained in the Naval Medical Corps Reserve. He traveled to Guantanamo Bay twice to care for Marine families and worked at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth during Operation Desert Storm in 1990.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Dr. Adkins spent another six months on active duty, including time in Kuwait to care for gynecologic and general medicine patients at a base hospital. In 2006, Dr. Adkins volunteered to deploy to Kuwait for a month to relieve a physician who had a personal emergency.
“I always enjoyed helping my country, and I enjoyed helping a fellow doctor, too,” he recalls. Coincidentally, at the same time that he was in Kuwait, his middle daughter, who was in the Army for eight years, was deployed to the Middle East.
Dr. Adkins retired from the Navy in 2008. He has also given up obstetrics but remains dedicated to his gynecology practice.
“I love my job,” he says. “I’m so grateful the military led me to this life.”