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Joint Medical Graduate Education Selection Board Shapes Future Workforce

Image of Joint Medical Graduate Education Selection Board Shapes Future Workforce. The 31st Annual Joint Graduate Medical Education Selection Board was held at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland the week of Nov. 13-17. (photo: Robbie Hammer, MHS Communications)

The futures of medical students from across the Military Health System were in the hands of members of selection committees the week of Nov. 13-17, 2023, when the Uniformed Services University hosted the 31st Annual Joint Graduate Medical Education Selection Board in Bethesda, Maryland.

“The importance of this gathering cannot be overemphasized as it not only highlights the pivotal role you play, but graduate medical education is shaping the careers of Uniformed Service University graduates … and strengthens the entire MHS,” said Dr. Jonathan Woodson, president of Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences during the joint plenary session on Nov. 14.

Over 500 MHS health care professionals from around the world attended the selection board to help determine the immediate future of the MHS workforce. The focus is to maximize selection opportunities for applicants and to ensure optimal use of available positions across the services.

“The future of health care providers and the quality of care we deliver to our military community hinges significantly on the decisions and deliberations taking place this week. We all recognize that graduate medical education is paramount to cultivating the future of the physician workforce and medical leadership—but in the MHS, graduate medical education is simply readiness,” said Woodson.

Graduate medical education is important for future MHS physicians, and medical leadership as it provides the MHS with a clinically skilled workforce.

“The point of the GME is to generate physicians for the MHS,” said Dr. Michael Malanoski, deputy director of the Defense Health Agency.

According to U.S. Army Col. Kent DeZee, DHA GME program director, the selection board meets annually to decide where applicants will further their training and in which specialty.

“Based off a pre-determined plan for the coming year, we choose what the next generation will be trained for,” said DeZee.

In December 2023, medical education graduates, residents in training, and staff who have applied for a fellowship will learn in which specialty they will continue their training.

“This is important because it is an entire force generation,” said DeZee. “It keeps us staffed and ready to meet the needs of the MHS.”

“It provides us with a pool of highly skilled clinicians and lays the foundation for future discoveries aimed at enhancing combat casualty care and other priorities,” said Woodson. “These future physicians will also play a pivotal role in it in an era of unprecedented transformation and innovation in health care.”

“This creates an enormous responsibility for each of you because not only must you select the candidates, but you must think about how you're going to train them differently,” said Woodson.

In the plenary session, members of all service branches gathered to listen to senior leaders from across the MHS discuss topics of mutual interest and concern.

Staffing needs, the need to leverage technology, and the MHS strategic plan were among some of the topics touched on by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Lester Martinez-López.

“Force generation is what the GME does,” said Martinez. “We are generating the next force that is going to allow us to execute our mission.”

He noted that with ongoing staffing shortages across the MHS, maintaining these opportunities is vital to the future of the MHS workforce and of their responsibility to the warfighter and their families.

He talked briefly about the upcoming MHS strategy and its four pillars:

  • Take care of our people
  • Stabilize the MHS
  • Modernize the MHS
  • Integrate the MHS

“We cannot do the same thing we’ve been doing for the past five years,” said Martinez. “If we do the same thing, we will fail.”

Martinez talked about the important role that current leaders have in developing the future of health care in the MHS.

“You are critical to that exercise,” said Martinez. “You have a role to play, and we must make it strong. Graduate medical education is not a side business.”

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Last Updated: June 20, 2024
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