The Navy's largest rating will soon see the most significant training changes since the Hospital Corps "A" School's 2011 move from Great Lakes, Illinois, to San Antonio, Texas, Vice Adm. Forrest Faison, the Navy surgeon general, announced during congressional testimony March 29.
Faison spoke before the Senate Appropriations Committee Defense subcommittee during a hearing on defense health programs and military medicine funding, where his focus was on Navy Medicine's most important priority - readiness.
"We are changing and improving the training of our corpsmen at HM "A" school in San Antonio," Faison told the subcommittee. "Our curriculum changes are focused on providing ready and relevant training that will prepare them to manage the continuum of care in high-threat or complex environments most likely to be encountered by our sea-based expeditionary Navy and Marine Corps forces."
Faison told the subcommittee a primary reason for today's high combat survivability rate is the "heroic work" by hospital corpsmen.
"You, and the American public, can be justifiably proud of their tremendous contributions," Faison said. "Corpsmen are responsible for delivering initial care on the battlefield or in an isolated assignment aboard a ship or submarine far from any MTF."
The new Hospital Corpsmen curriculum is scheduled to begin in July.
"This is a total revision of the existing curriculum," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Renee Byam, the Navy Medicine Education, Training and Logistics Command (NMETLC) skills management leading chief petty officer. "The revision increases hands-on training by approximately 20 percent," which was directly identified by key stakeholders, the operational forces, medical treatment facilities and Faison during lifecycle curriculum review studies.
As with all training programs, the curriculum changes began with an ongoing NMETLC monitoring and survey process, said Dino Nelson, an NMETLC instructional systems specialist. Along with extensive technical and content reviews, the "lifecycle management process" includes a "follow-up" with Hospital Corps "A" School graduates and their first duty station supervisors to assess how the training aligns with the needs of the fleet. Medical subject-matter experts from the fleet and NMETLC training commands were also consulted and offered an opportunity to provide feedback.
Navy Corpsmen and Air Force Medical Technicians currently train together in a consolidated training environment at the tri-service Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) on board Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, said Capt. Terri Kinsey, NMETLC academics director. When the services first consolidated with one another, the Navy Medicine requirements identified the Military Treatment Facility (MTF) as the primary duty station for a basic corpsman to perform skills obtained in training. The newly developed Navy curriculum will also focus on the operational environments, to which Navy corpsmen are also assigned. Adding the fleet and expeditionary environments added two areas that require corpsman training to deconsolidate away from common classroom training with the Air Force.
Hospital Corps School provides enlisted personnel with a basic medical knowledge of pre-hospital, inpatient and outpatient care within the scope of the Hospital Corpsman rate. This initial training is ultimately augmented with more extensive skills training at the first duty station assignment to reach the most optimum level of training for each Hospital Corps School graduate.
"At the schoolhouse, this will be done in large part by teaching the entire continuum of care, which begins with the emergent point of injury in the field or the acute illness seen in sick call up to hospital-based inpatient care or follow-up outpatient care," Kinsey said. "Through practical application of the knowledge and skills taught and acquired at school, the Hospital Corpsmen will be prepared for the expeditionary, sea-based and MTF environments."
"The surgeon general's readiness, health and partnership priorities are the cornerstone of Navy Medicine's force health protection mission," said Rear Adm. Rebecca McCormick-Boyle, NMETLC commander. "Medical education and training play a major role in that readiness. The NMETLC Academics staff fully embrace the responsibility to prepare members of the Hospital Corps to save lives, anytime, anywhere. I am proud of their 'all hands effort' to deliver a quality educational foundation, which in the end, will deliver a more highly trained and skilled corpsman, who will undoubtedly provide a more comprehensive level of care to the most deserving patients in the world, the warfighters of our nation."
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