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The Medical Education and Training Campus: the future of military medical training.

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In 2005, the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Committee (BRAC) recommended that all military medical training collocate and consolidate training at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas. The new school is known as the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC). The 2005 BRAC report stated that, "this will result in reduced infrastructure and excess system capacity, while capitalizing on the synergy of the co-location of similar training conducted by each of the three Services. In addition, the development of a joint training center will result in standardized training for medical enlisted specialties enhancing interoperability and joint deployability."

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When completed, the METC will be the world's largest medical education and training institution. The average daily student load is expected to be 9000, with an annual throughput of 47,000 students. It requires 2.1 million square feet of new construction, with 1.2 million square feet of instructional and laboratory space. The student campus will include a Processing Center, Post Exchange, recreation center and gymnasium. It will resemble a typical university campus environment, including six new dormitories/barracks with 1800 rooms each. Fort Sam Houston is currently a hot bed of construction!

As required by BRAC law, the METC will result in a 10-20% manpower and cost savings over current practices of medical training.

As a result, the Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) programs currently taught by the Army, Navy and Air Force will move to Fort Sam Houston during the summer of 2010, and will start teaching in October 2010. Currently, the Navy's MLT program is taught at the Naval School of Health Sciences, San Diego, California. The Air Force MLT program is conducted at Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas. In 2010, they will both move to Fort Sam Houston, where the Army and Navy will consolidate training with a new curriculum, and the Air Force will collocate with essentially their current curriculum. Both programs will move into the Medical Instructional Facility #3 (MIF #3). Also moving into MIF #3 are the Interservice Cytotechnology Program and the Interservice Histotechnology Program.

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This new Army/Navy consolidated Phase 1 didactic curriculum (1040 hours) will consist of an Introduction to Laboratory Medicine, Chemistry I and II, Hematology I and II, Urinalysis and Body Fluids, Immunology, Blood Bank I and II, and Medical Microbiology I and II (including Parasitology).

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At the end of Phase I, each service will conduct service specific training. The Army, for example, will conduct a 72-hour, continuous operations Field Training Exercise at Camp Bullis, Texas. The FTX provides training in Combat Support Hospital Laboratory operations, Forward Operating Base (FOB) access control and security, convoy operations, and Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills. This training is designed to introduce the MLT student to their duties and responsibilities in a hostile environment.

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Phase 2 consists of 1040 hours in a military hospital laboratory for clinical training. Each service will continue to use their own clinical training sites.

The METC is facing some unique challenges with their consolidated/collocated training. First, the MLT course is an advanced course for the Navy, but an initial entry course for the Army and Air Force. Sailors go through the Corpsman school first, then usually serve as a Navy Corpsman before applying to attend the MLT course. Training more mature Sailors with fresh-faced Soldiers and Airmen will be an instructional challenge to teach at a pace that is conducive to all.

Another challenge is the training philosophies of each service. The Air Force trains to the apprentice level, while the Army and Navy train to the journeyman level. This means the Airmen require additional training after the MLT course before they are world-wide deployable, while the Soldiers and Sailors are world-wide deployable immediately upon graduation from the MLT course. This, and other training philosophies of the Air Education Training Command, is why the Air Force will collocate their course instead of consolidating.

One more challenge is the difference in course accreditations and certifications. All Air Force courses are accredited by the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF). The current Army and Navy MLT courses are accredited by George Washington University (GWU). METC has appealed to the US Congress to change the CCAF to the Community College of the Armed Forces, and allow all military members receive college credits from the CCAF. Under the CCAF's current charter, only Airmen may receive credits from the CCAF. The Army and Navy have requested an exception to policy to maintain their affiliation with GWU. The request is still pending.

Of course, all three courses are currently accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). The intent is to gain NAACLS accreditation for the new consolidated program as soon as it is completed.

At the 2008 AMT National Meeting I was extremely honored to receive the first ever O.C. "Skip" Skinner Uniformed Services Award. I was thrilled that this prestigious award was named after such a great man as Skip Skinner. While I did know Skip in my first years as an AMT member, I was, however, ashamed to admit that I didn't really know much about him. I asked the audience at the awards ceremony to help me out, and Carole Fecteau of Maine came to my rescue! She sent me some great articles from AMT's journals from 1979 and 1981. Here is what I learned:

Orten C. "Skip" Skinner, MT (AMT) was a graduate of the Naval Medical School, Bethesda, Maryland, and the medical technology program of George Washington University. His last position during his 23 year Navy career was as Assignments Officer for medical and dental personnel for the Surgeon General and Chief of Medical Personnel. After several years as administrator of the Cumberland School for Medical Technology, he was named executive vice president of a Memphis firm, International Clinical Laboratories. From 1976 to his retirement, he served as the administrative director, Division of Pathology and Clinical Laboratories, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee. He also was appointed by Governor Lamar Alexander to the Licensure and Personnel Committee, Tennessee Department of Public Health, and was active in the American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts of America, and the Memphis Optimist Club.

Skip was a very active member with AMT. He was certified around 1951. He then served as president, vice-president, and board member for the Tennessee State Society of AMT. He was honored by the state society as their Technologist of the Year (1978) and recipient of their highest honor, the Silver Lens Award (1976).

On the national level, Skip served as national treasurer and vice president; and was the national president in 19781980. His numerous honors include Exceptional Merit (1977), Technologist of the Year (1975), Distinguished Achievement (1974), and President's Award (1972). In 1981 he was the recipient of AMT's highest honor for an MT, The Order of the Golden Microscope.

Skip was a prolific author, writing over 30 articles, as well as books, on microbiology. He was also a well-known speaker on motivational topics and the St. Jude programs.

The Uniformed Services Award was aptly named for Skip Skinner. His name will live on in the hearts and minds of AMT members for a long time. Thank you, Carole, for sharing your information with me.

I strongly encourage all of you to attend the AMT National Meeting in Minneapolis this summer. While there, look for me, and if you knew Skip, please tell me your favorite story about him. If you didn't know him, just tell me your favorite story so that I might remember you. See you there!

Jeff Lavender

Sergeant Major, U.S. Army

Fort Sam Houston, TX
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Title Annotation:uniformed services
Author:Lavender, Jeff
Publication:AMT Events
Date:Mar 1, 2009
Words:1380
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