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DHA Program Supports Training Education of Future Medical Providers

Image of Military personnel looking at display. Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune’s Clinical Investigations and Family Medicine Residency programs hosted the 12th annual Research Symposium, Apr. 7, exploring a variety of topics within the medical field. (Photo: Michelle Cornell)

The Defense Health Agency’s Clinical Investigations Program ensures the Defense Health Agency has a ready medical force to provide high-quality health care for Department of Defense service members and families.

The program facilitates research and training to support graduate health sciences education including medical, dental, and nursing programs in the Military Health System, said Nereyda Sevilla, who holds a doctorate in biodefense and is chief of DHA’s Clinical Investigations Program Office. The office is part of the Research and Engineering Directorate.

In other words, the program supports the teaching of the MHS’s future medical force, which includes over 4,000 trainees.

"Bench-to-bedside" program

The CIP has a 'bench-to-bedside' program of education, training, and research that leads to high-quality, cost-effective health care provided to the military beneficiary population, said Sevilla.

Bench-to-bedside is a term that describes how results from lab-based research are directly used to develop new ways to treat patients in the clinic.

"Each local CIP has exceptional and unique capabilities and creates a large teaching system with clinicians who produce cutting-edge research that sets new standards into quality patient care," said Sevilla.

Fulfilled Staff & Satisfied Patients

In addition to fostering a ready medical force, Sevilla said CIP works to achieve a fulfilled staff and satisfied patients, two cornerstones of DHA's overall mission and strategic initiatives.

To do this, she said the program emphasizes education and training.

"A well-trained MHS workforce is essential for providing access to high-quality, high-value health care for our active-duty service members and DOD beneficiaries," she said. "Teaching hospitals train our physician workforce, and the CIP helps create an MHS learning environment with research and scholarly activities by the staff and trainees."

Because of the involvement in research, said Sevilla, MHS providers have knowledge of the latest treatment options.

"They bring together innovations, experience, and teamwork to provide the best care," she said.

Military personnel with award Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Elan Sherazee, won the DHA Clinical Investigations Program’s inaugural Young Investigator Competition at AMSUS 2022, the annual meeting of the Society of Federal Health Professionals.

Young Investigator Competition

Earlier this year, the CIP office hosted its inaugural, virtual Young Investigator Competition during the annual meeting for AMSUS, the Society of Federal Health Professionals.

"The competition brought together the best young researchers from local CIPs, military hospitals and clinics," said Sevilla, "addressing a DOD need to encourage research by providing recognition at an MHS and national level to showcase the best of MHS young researchers."

Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Elan Sherazee, a researcher at David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, California, won the 2022 competition. Five judges evaluated his study on traumatic brain injury and hemorrhagic shock based on his knowledge, methods, significance, military relevance, and presentation.

"The Young Investigator Competition is an excellent way to get junior researchers such as myself interested in the scientific method and presenting resident-led research," Sherazee said.

"The [competition] is critical to developing young researchers and encouraging impactful scientific discovery," he added.

Sevilla highlighted the significance of developing young researchers. This is especially true when the research applies to military medicine.

Sherazee's research, for example, looked at two major causes of death on the battlefield, making it specifically applicable to military medicine.

"The future of the MHS relies on the next generation of clinicians, especially as technology and medical advances improve patient outcomes and sustain a healthy striving workforce," she said. "We must invest in [them] as they become the clinical mentors of the future."

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