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Arthur Kellermann“America’s Medical School”

 Among the 141 accredited allopathic medical schools in the United States, only the School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) can rightfully claim the title, “America’s Medical School.” Named for the Louisiana Congressman who championed its creation, the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine at USU was established in 1972 to assure that the Army, Navy, Air Force and U.S. Public Health Service would have a steady supply of physician-leaders to provide the backbone for their medical corps.  

Every medical student who enrolls at USU — whether entering straight out of college or following years of military service — is commissioned an officer in one of the School’s four sponsoring services. USU’s “Molecules to Military Medicine” curriculum is crafted to cover the same scientific concepts and clinical skills that civilian med students learn, and much more. Unlike other medical students, USU students receive more than 700 additional hours of supplemental training in military medicine, tropical diseases, combat casualty care, humanitarian assistance, ethics and other military-relevant topics and skills. Because we are the leadership academy of the military health system, our educational philosophy stresses inter-professional education, teamwork, problem-solving and systems thinking in a wide range of contexts and environments.

USU is more than a medical school. The School of Medicine partners with the University’s Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing, the Postgraduate Dental College and the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute.  Within the School of Medicine, we offer outstanding graduate education programs in public health, tropical medicine, and health administration and policy (through our Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics), medical and clinical psychology (we have one of the most distinctive programs of its type in America) and interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs in three areas that are highly relevant to military and public health: neuroscience, molecular and cell biology, and emerging infectious diseases

In addition to offering a world-class education to students committed to careers of national service, America’s Medical School supports a robust and high-impact program of research. Our interdisciplinary centers focus on issues of high importance to military health, such as combat casualty care, human performance optimization, emerging infectious diseases, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress and infectious diseases. These centers and other programs not only enrich the academic environment on campus, they strengthen our links with partner institutions including the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the Naval Medical Research Center and the National Institutes of Health. These partnerships, and our national network of military treatment facilities ensures that our students, staff and faculty can make a difference at every level of academic endeavor, from cell biology to global health.

USU’s motto is “learning to care for those in harm’s way.” As an element of the U.S. Department of Defense, we contribute to America’s national security by ensuring that the U.S. military has a “ready medical force” and a “medically ready force” — whenever and wherever they are needed. In addition, the students, faculty and staff of the Hébert School of Medicine are committed to defending the health security of the United States by generating high-impact scientific and clinical discoveries, by delivering compassionate and efficient patient care and by advancing public health throughout the United States and around the world.

Arthur L Kellermann, M.D., M.P.H. 


Why Cancer Care is Relevant to Military Health

The White House recently launched its Cancer Moonshot initiative at Howard University.  The Murtha Cancer Center and USU will have an important role in this important national effort to try and speed up cancer research. 

When asked whether I believe cancer care is relevant to military health, my one-word answer is “Absolutely.”

I have five reasons for this response.  The first four are encompassed in the military health system’s “quadruple aim:”

1. Better health – the Military Health System (MHS) covers more than 9 million Americans including service members, their families and military retirees. It directly or indirectly provides care to 7 million or more.  Its job isn’t limited to treating folks when they are sick or injured; the MHS’ first responsibility is to keep warfighters healthy, fit and ready for duty. A healthy military, backed by healthy and strong families, is a force amplifier. Although cancer is more commonly diagnosed in retirees, it’s a challenge for service members and their families, too.  Consider these facts: breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in women, and it’s the top cause of cancer-related deaths among women under 40.  Since 90% of women service members are under 40; this makes breast cancer a significant threat to their health. Historically, cervical cancer was a major problem, too, but thanks to the work of Dr. Lowy at the National Cancer Institute we now have an effective vaccine for cervical and several other forms of cancer.  Tobacco is widely used in the military, so tobacco-related cancers are a major threat too.

2. Better care – the staff of Walter Reed’s Murtha Cancer Center understand the values, challenges and special needs of service members and their families.  And like the rest of the staff at the hospital, they put the patient, and the families that back them up, are at the center of everything they do.  They not only deserve the best care our nation can offer, they need to know that their families will be cared for while they are gone. In fact, the Murtha Cancer Center outperforms the nation, based on SEER data.

3. Lower costs – Cancer care can be hugely expensive, and every dollar the DoD spends on cancer care is one dollar less the DoD has for other priorities.  And unlike the civilian sector, which is aligned to maximize clinical revenue, the military health system has a powerful incentive to give its patients better care at lower cost.  The good news is that in almost every case, the best care costs less, because when patients get the care they need, rather than a lot of extra tests and treatments that don’t benefit their health, this saves money and reduces the risk of costly side effects and complications from treatment. A recent analysis Murtha Cancer Center care demonstrated that patients not only did better; their care was much less expensive than cancer treatment at civilian hospitals.  That’s a “win” for military patients and their families, and a “win” for American taxpayers.

4. Readiness – delivery of top quality cancer care a high-performing team of doctors, nurses, technicians and others with the technical skill required to perform complicated chest, abdominal, pelvic and extremity surgery, anesthesia, critical care, rehabilitation, expert nursing and compassionate counseling. These are precisely the skills military healthcare providers need to deliver great combat casualty care. Surgeons can’t manage the devastating injuries caused by an IED or artillery through a laparoscope. Top sports teams understand that to win championships, you have to, “practice how you play.” The Murtha Cancer Center’s surgeons, OR staff, nurses and others. As a result, Murtha’s clinical programs not only benefit DoD patients, and save money, they maintain readiness by honing key clinical skills caregivers need to possess when go down range.

· But there’s a fifth reason that military cancer care matters, and it’s as important as the other four.  It’s Innovation.  It’s the key reason the Murtha Cancer Center exists. Today, thanks to the Tri-Federal Cancer Initiative involving Walter Reed, the National Cancer Institute at NIH and the Uniformed Services University, the Murtha Cancer Center is becoming one of our nation’s most valuable hubs for advanced cancer care and research; not only throughout the military health system, but for the United States at large. The Murtha Cancer Center is perfectly positioned to ask and answer vital research questions that will not only improve the health of service members, their families and military retirees; it will advance the our nation’s odds of defeating cancer, once and for all.

Is cancer care relevant to the U.S. military?  You bet. It’s relevant because it produces:   

·         Better Health – for military service members, their families and retirees

·         Better Care – keeping the patient at the center of everything we do

·         Lower Costs – good stewardship for America’s taxpayers and the DoD

·         Readiness – to assure a medically ready force; we must maintain a ready medical force

·         Innovation – the Murtha Cancer Center is making landmark discoveries to advance our understanding of cancer causation, prevention, treatment and recovery.

As the DoD’s only Cancer Center of Excellence, the Murtha Cancer Center has a special responsibility to serve those who come to Walter Reed and other major military hospitals around the nation for the best cancer care our nation has to offer.  And as the focal point of the Tri Federal Initiative, it has a unique opportunity to advance science and improve America’s health.  The Hébert School of Medicine at USU – “America’s Medical School” – is proud to be a partner in this effort.

Arthur L Kellermann, MD, MPH                                       

Dean, F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

June 22, 2015