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Army hospital earns reputation as a top teaching institution

Army OB/GYN nurse residents train in the CRDAMC simulation lab. The OB/GYN Nurse Resident Program, only offered at CRDAMC, focuses on OB/GYN nursing skills that include childbearing, high-risk and complicated pregnancy, newborn assessment and care and family planning gynecology. (U.S. Army photo by Gloria Montgomery) Army OB/GYN nurse residents train in the CRDAMC simulation lab. The OB/GYN Nurse Resident Program, only offered at CRDAMC, focuses on OB/GYN nursing skills that include childbearing, high-risk and complicated pregnancy, newborn assessment and care and family planning gynecology. (U.S. Army photo by Gloria Montgomery)

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Health Readiness | Military Hospitals and Clinics

FORT HOOD, Texas — Critical thinking and quick, sound decisions can be the difference between life and death when it comes to combat medical care.

“Healthcare professionals have to be confident and competent to provide the absolute best quality and safest care for their patients – whether on the battlefield or in garrison,” said Army Col. David Gibson, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center commander. “Maintaining medical readiness of the force is a top priority for us. Army medicine continues to evolve and improve with state-of-the-art skills, technology and equipment. It is absolutely imperative that our healthcare providers stay up-to-date and knowledgeable so we can provide the latest evidence-based care to Soldiers and their families.”

Gibson said the culture at CRDAMC is to continually strive for ways to improve and add value. 

“I believe the staff’s efforts to hone their medical skills and improve access to care processes, result in the highest quality and safety standards for the hospital,” Gibson said. “That’s not just my opinion, CRDAMC has been recognized by prominent healthcare associations and educational institutions for our exceptional achievements.”

He cited just a few of the awards and recognition given to CRDAMC such as the University of Health Sciences’ Excellence in Teaching Award for its role in shaping the Military Health System's next generation of physicians, advanced practice nurses and scientists. The American College of Surgeons named CRDAMC number one in DoD for Surgical Safety in its National Surgical Quality Improvement Program and the American Society for Clinical Pathology cited CRDAMC for our 100 percent pass rate for its national board exam.

“It is our commitment to education excellence which has earned CRDAMC a reputation as a top teaching hospital,” said Army Col. Derek Linklater, CRDAMC director of Graduate Medical Education. “Residents from Darnall’s Family Medicine Residency Program consistently score well above the national average on in-training exams, with many residents scoring above the 90th percentile and the Emergency Medicine Residency Program is ranked in the top ten of the country.”

Linklater attributes the GME’s success to its faculty, referred to as preceptors, who are physicians providing patient care but also are primarily responsible for training the residents. 

“It’s not easy to manage two demanding roles. But we do it because we're passionate about being good physicians and about teaching the next generation. We're passionate about providing the best care for our beneficiaries,” Linklater said. “I think practicing in an environment where people care about each other and where people care about the patients leads to higher satisfaction and better training for all of our residents and learners, which means a better experience for everybody.”

CRDAMC GME trains and educates interns, residents and fellows on evidence-based didactics, hands-on and direct patient care in a patient rich environment with the support of a broad based subspecialty medical campus. 

Linklater added that GME will soon be adding a psychiatry residency program. CRDAMC was selected because of the large mental health and behavioral health mission.

The large and diverse population at Fort Hood and having the highest baby delivery rate also provides unique opportunities for Obstetric and Gynecologic health providers.

The Obstetric and Gynecologic Nurse Resident course is only available at CRDAMC. The course focuses on providing foundational information and skills to prepare registered nurses to function as “advanced beginner” staff nurses in an OB/GYN environment.

Additionally, CRDAMC provides Phase II Advanced Individual Training for various medical military occupational specialties ranging from radiology and physical therapy to laboratory specialist and occupational therapy. During the individual programs, which range from seven weeks to 26 weeks, Soldiers learn their craft through intensive classroom and practical knowledge to gain hands-on, on-the-job exposure and experience. 

“This just scratches the surface of the amount of training that goes on at the hospital. Learning goes on all the time,” said Army Maj. Sheila Medina, chief of Hospital Education and Training. “It does take effort as we have to fit training into an already busy and hectic work schedule but everyone – from doctors, nurses, residents, students to support staff – demonstrates a commitment to lifelong learning.” 

Medina said that some of the other training opportunities for staff across all disciplines include Swank Health, an on-line software platform that is available 24/7 for all types of continuing education and mandatory type training, continuing medical education and continuing education credit classes, professional-development, mentorship programs and a state-of-the-art simulation center. CRDAMC also has agreements in place with community partners, universities and colleges that send students to the hospital to get clinical hours and internships. 

“We’re constantly increasing and adapting our training here to ensure our medical personnel are highly trained and ready to deliver quality health care on the battlefield, in garrison, and clinical environments,” Medina said. “Lifelong learning is not just a means to maintaining licensure and keeping our jobs – it exposes us to new and emerging information, knowledge and technologies that helps us to understand and care for our patients in the best way possible.”

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