Advancements in military medical education

With the one-year anniversary of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center partnership, Texas A&M celebrates milestones and looks to the future in military medicine
May 19, 2018

Texas A&M and its College of Medicine have a rich history with the U.S. military, as well as a dedication to a set of core values that places an emphasis on selfless service. The Texas A&M College of Medicine was one of five medical schools created by the Teague Cranston Act that established medical schools with Veterans Affairs hospitals throughout the country.

Today, Texas A&M’s unique medical education model provides students the opportunity to complete rotations with key affiliates across the state in a variety of clinical settings ranging from rural and community clinics to specialty hospitals and major, urban health systems. Students can find their own path to becoming the physicians they want to be, and the college has a history of making sure that opportunities to practice the core value of selfless service and experience military medicine are part of the educational process. Part of this goal is for all physicians who graduate from Texas A&M to understand the unique needs of military service members, veterans and their families.

Celebrating a successful year with Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center

In the first year of the expanded partnership between Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center (CRDAMC) and Texas A&M, medical students have found an additional platform for medical training. Nearly a year ago, Texas A&M and CRDAMC formalized a partnership establishing CRDAMC as a clinical training site for medical students. The collaboration will ultimately lead to even better care for the nation’s military and military families.

The partnership with CRDAMC has further diversified the college’s clinical offerings, affording students access to military patient populations and unique pathologies that fit with the college’s priorities, which include military medicine, rural population health and engineering medicine.

The past year was spent fine-tuning clinical training with expanded core and elective rotations, but looking ahead, the entities hope to add additional rotations in other areas. In all, 18 electives are available to medical students at CRDAMC. Among these are consult psychiatry, which was the most requested elective, followed second by general surgery electives.

During the last year students from each of the college’s campuses (Bryan-College Station, Dallas, Houston, Round Rock and Temple) completed rotations at CRDAMC. Lodging is provided for students who rotate through the CRDAMC education site, and since September 2017, 31 students have resided in fully furnished units located on the Fort Hood campus.

Adriana Ocon, third-year medical student, rotated through the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) elective at CRDAMC. Ocon will be applying for OB-GYN residencies this year and said that the experience was very beneficial to her as a future OB-GYN, and helping new (and especially young) parents through the stress of having a newborn in critical care gave her a fresh understanding of the practice of medicine.

“We saw a lot of young, new parents, so it was crucial for the physicians to be able to support the parents during this time, educate them on the process and ensure proper care was possible at home after discharge,” Ocon said. “There are a lot of logistics that the parents were not prepared for, as well as the emotional stress of having their baby in critical care.”

The elective also helped Ocon gain insight into the unique needs of military service members and their families.

“We commonly faced issues with patients who lived far away from the hospital, especially if only one spouse was in the military, so I saw physicians get creative on how to ensure proper follow-up after discharge and their utilization of resources available to the military to help them take care of all of their family members,” Ocon said.

Expanding military partnerships

CRDAMC is not the only military partnership with the college, though it is one of the more recent. Just this week the college expanded its list of military partners, with the announcement of a medical education partnership with the U.S. Air Force’s 59th Medical Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. This partnership, like CRDAMC, expands medical education and research opportunities for the college.

The agreement includes clinical elective rotations in ophthalmology, cardiology, dermatology, mental health, pediatrics, radiology, and internal medicine, in addition to an ambulatory surgical center rotation.

Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, the 59th Medical Wing is the U.S. Air Force’s premier health care, medical education/research and readiness wing. With multiple treatment facilities across San Antonio, more than 240,000 patients receive care from the Air Force’s largest medical wing. The 59th Medical Wing’s Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center is the Department of Defense’s largest outpatient medical center, with 19 primary care clinics and more than 100 specialty services.

Commissioning officers and physicians in the armed forces

Today, the College of Medicine is also celebrating a new class of commissioning officers. Just before the traditional commencement ceremony, the college holds a commissioning ceremony. This year nine graduates commissioned to the armed forces and will serve their country as both physicians and leaders within the various military branches.

This year’s commissioning officers include Captain Kent-Andrew Boucher, U.S. Air Force; Captain Anthony C. Dolomisiewicz, U.S. Army; Captain Albert J. Elumn, U.S. Army; Captain Kyle D. Hart, U.S. Air Force; Captain Jessie W. Ho, U.S. Air Force; Captain Stuart R. Weston, U.S. Air Force; Lieutenant John V. Dang, U.S. Navy; Lieutenant Robert E. Guidagen, U.S. Navy; Lieutenant Jordan H. Powell, U.S. Navy.

“Medical and military service are two of the most meaningful ways an American can serve their fellow citizen,” said  Carrie L. Byington, MD, dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine, senior vice president of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center and vice chancellor for health services at The Texas A&M University System. “We encourage our students to learn about the special needs of military medicine and the many benefits to service members and citizens, and we also celebrate military service as the epitome of one of the A&M core values. Our goal is not only to create outstanding physicians, but outstanding citizens who will support this mission.”

— Katherine Hancock

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