Before aspiring medical school students venture off on careers at hospitals, Army leaders hope to entice them to bring their critical life-saving skills to battlefields across the globe.
For even more daring future doctors, Army leaders tout the unique capabilities of surgeons to jump from an aircraft and pop up a tent to perform surgeries in the most desolate combat zones.
"What they do here helps to save America's sons and daughters that are fighting America's wars," said Col. John Melvin, deputy commanding officer of Fort Bragg's 44th Medical Brigade and chief nurse. "We do it well."
This week, medical professionals from 26 universities in the Southeast visited Fort Bragg on a tour for a glimpse of Army medicine -- both at installation hospitals and in tents on combat zones. The educational tour is a tool used to connect medical students to careers in the Army.
Army leaders called on the visiting professionals to encourage their premedical school students and medical residents to consider careers in the Army. There are more than 90 medical concentrations in the Army -- including optometry, head and neck specialists, trauma life support and preventative medicine.
The group spent one day at Womack Army Medical Center observing how Army doctors work on installations.
On Friday, the group visited Fort Bragg's 44th Medical Brigade, which deploys soldiers all over the world to treat ill and wounded soldiers on the battlefield. As part of the brigade, a small surgical team has the ability to mobilize and deploy within 18 hours.
Soldiers with the brigade's 759th Forward Surgical Team set up a tent to demonstrate their sections from the battlefield: pre-operative care, like a hospital's emergency room; operative care, where surgeon's perform life-saving procedures; and post-operative care, where patients are recovering from surgery.
They can perform as many as 30 surgeries in three days in their surgical tent.
These soldiers don't just operate combat emergency rooms, they also have the ability to jump from an aircraft onto the battlefield with the equipment. They are one of the most sought-after teams in the brigade, leaders said.
Christina Beard, director of the physician assistant program at Methodist University, walked through the surgical tent, listening as soldiers described how they scrub up and perform procedures.
Since the university has a significant number of students who are connected to the military, Beard said she was interested in hearing about career opportunities she could share with medical students.
"It's pretty amazing what they can do," she said. "It's inspirational."
Beyond tuition assistance, the Army allows greater career diversity, including research opportunities, said Lt. Col. Kevin Smith of the 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion, which organized the educational tour.
The active-duty component needs emergency physicians, family medicine physicians, general surgeons and psychiatrists, Smith said.
These are key personnel who keep America's soldiers in the fight, he said.
"It's critical," Smith said. "As far forward as you can put medicine, it's going to benefit the soldier that's wounded. You can't always evacuate a soldier. You need to be able to treat them on the battlefield."
(c)2017 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)