medical centers so we can rotate them through trauma
centers or ICUs [Intensive Care Units], our wards and
our ORs to give them clinical experience. Then, they
will go to their follow-on training with the Marine
Corps or with the fleet, then, they will go to the fleet.
So that corpsman, when he shows up on that ship, will
have the training necessary for combat survival in the
maritime domain, the clinical experience to back that
up and, with that, the confidence to keep people alive.
We want them to have the clinical experience because
how a simulator responds is very different than how a
live patient responds. How they respond is also different.
Red-colored water is very different than honest-to-God
blood, especially if it’s your buddy’s blood. You have to
be able to work through your thinking and be disciplined
in the face of crisis to be able to save lives.
We don’t run trauma systems in the military for a
variety of reasons, so we rotate our personnel through
trauma centers. We have a partnership with L.A. [Los
Angeles] County Hospital where our staff will go there
to get trauma experience.
But, in the United States, actual complex trauma is
declining because of the impact of seatbelt laws and
the insurance industry. The majority of what goes into
trauma centers today are falls by the elderly, which
is not really getting you ready
for combat. So, we are looking at
other options we can pursue to
better give our staff the trauma
experience they need to be able to
preserve life in the next conflict.
The other reason we’re doing so is
because of insurance reimbursement rules for civilian docs. When
we rotate our staff to civilian
trauma centers, our docs cannot
lead the trauma resuscitation. The
best they can be is second assist.
We deliver peacetime health
care, but only as a way to keep our
clinical skills and competencies
current for the next conflict. We
have worked real hard to get more
complex care back into our hospitals because you don’t get ready for
combat by taking care of 19-year-
olds with runny noses. We have
worked very hard to reach out to
the retiree community and to others
to get more complex care back into
our hospitals to give our folks the
clinical experience we need.
Where does the Navy get its doctors?
FAISON: We train the majority of our own doctors.
The reason is two-fold. No. 1, the civilian sector
doesn’t have the capacity in civilian training programs to meet our requirements. The other reason is
I’m going to ask that doctor to do some things that
I’m probably not going to ask a civilian to do. As a
civilian doc from a civilian residency program, you’re
probably going to live in a community where there are
other doctors around, probably a hospital down the
street. If you’re in the Navy or with the Marine Corps,
you may be the only doctor for a thousand miles.
Again, when somebody joins our team, we make
a commitment to provide them the best care our
nation can offer. Some of our training programs are
the best in the country. All of our training programs
are fully accredited by the civilian accrediting agency.
Our board certification pass rates are much higher
than the civilian sector and five of our programs
have been designated as the top programs in the
country. American moms and dads can rest easy at
night knowing the doctors taking care of their son or
daughter are well-trained. I can look in their eyes and
say we run the best training programs so we can to
make good on that promise.
Vice Adm. Forrest Faison, surgeon general and chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, speaks
with Sailors assigned to the USS Ross medical department as part of a tour of the ship in April 2016.
Ross is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain.