JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
In a first for the Medical Education and Training Campus’ (METC) Pharmacy Technician program, thirty-one Army, Air Force and Coast Guard students jointly conducted a three-day, field training exercise on JBSA-Camp Bullis, Texas July 12-15.
The Coast Guard students in the program are aligned under the Air Force for training purposes.
The METC Pharmacy Technician program trains Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard students how to perform both inpatient and outpatient pharmacy operations in both traditional and non-traditional pharmacy practice settings. The program is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education and culminates in college credits that apply toward an associate degree.
Army students have conducted a FTX as an end-of-course training event for decades in order to certify their pharmacy knowledge in a replicated deployment environment. The Air Force students similarly conducted their own FTX.
Maj. Allison Sternberg, METC Pharmacy Technician program director and Army service lead, said it makes sense to combine the two training exercises. “It allows us to maximize our resources by combining two separate events into one large event and improve overall efficiency.”
During the JFTX the students occupied Forward Operating Base Warrior, a simulated overseas military base, and set up the simulated inpatient and outpatient pharmacy areas to create a realistic work environment. Once operational, the students conducted a variety of pharmacy operations such as filling outpatient, inpatient, bulk medication, and narcotic drug orders.
The students also received training on setting up ISO shelters which are modular, self-supporting shelter systems typically used in the field. They conducted a supply drop mission in which students utilize navigation skills to locate a drop of medical supplies and completed several tasks and drills that required them to move as different size elements in an austere environment.
On the last day the students were involved in a mass casualty exercise. The mass casualty event is structured to challenge the students’ discipline, pharmaceutical knowledge, and ability to work as a team. In addition, it gives the students a better understanding of the expectations and demands they will encounter in a deployed environment.
The Air Force and Army students who participated in the JTFX have since graduated from the instructional, or Phase I, portion of the program and have transitioned into the clinical phase which provides them with hands-on experience at a civilian or military hospital or clinic pharmacy.
Sternberg stated that the JFTX was a success primarily due to the opportunity it provided students to experience a joint operational environment. “It allowed Air Force, Army and Coast Guard pharmacy technician students to experience some of the service-specific differences that are potentially encountered with a multi-service deployment.”