A MISSION DRIVEN OUTLOOK
Our country’s National Defense Strategy identifies military readiness as its top priority. Readiness is defined as our military’s ability to perform and meet the demands of its assigned missions. It requires that our troops are ready and able to respond at a moment’s notice, no matter what the mission may be.
Uniformed healthcare providers play a major role in ensuring that service members meet that requirement. It is their responsibility to make sure that our nation has a healthy -- “medically-ready” -- force that is capable of doing their jobs, even in the most austere conditions and challenging environments.
But more than that, we need a ready medical force. Ready to care for wounded, ill, and injured service members and their families, and ready to respond to humanitarian crises, disasters, large scale outbreaks of disease, and terrorist attacks.
During the pre-clerkship period military officers and civilian experts teach scientific and clinical skills, interwoven with instruction in military medicine, advanced combat medical skills, and the principles of leadership. Students care for our active duty members and their families during their clinical clerkships at our major military facilities. Sequential field exercises prepare each student to lead an interdisciplinary medical team in realistic battlefield conditions, which they demonstrate during their senior “Bushmaster” course.
Take a look around the Military Health System, the Department of Health and Human Services, other Federal agencies, and academic institutions around the country, and it probably won’t take long before you run across someone from USU, but our people aren't the only thing we're proud of. USU's innovations in research and education have changed the way our military performs both in the field and in the hospital around the world.
Research from USU faculty resulted in the military implementing a policy for screening and treatment of traumatic brain injury -- a reversal based on their recommendations, after years of routinely sending troops back into combat after being exposed to blast.
Innovations in pain control sparked a revolution in the military’s approach to battlefield pain management thanks to Dr. Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier. Buckenmaier was the first military physician to be fellowship-trained in regional anesthesia. He took his skills using regional peripheral nerve blocks for pain control to the battlefield and successfully performed the procedure -- taking a severely injured soldier from 10 out of 10 on the pain scale to complete and rapid pain relief. It also eliminated the side effects typically caused by opiate-based pain medications and morphine. The procedure is now widely performed using ultrasound to guide the placement and is also credited with eliminating phantom limb pain frequently experienced by patients following traumatic loss of limb.
All USU medical students are taught tactical combat casualty care (TCCC). The concept of tactical combat casualty care was started by USU faculty and the Naval Special Warfare Command in the early 1990s, with the U.S. Special Operations Command later joining the research effort. Tactical combat casualty care focuses on saving the patient’s life, preventing additional casualties, and completing the mission, and is geared to small units on the battlefield. The aim was to improve battlefield trauma care and to establish guidelines for the front lines. USU alumnus, Army Col. (Dr.) Russ Kotwal, the regimental surgeon for the 75th Ranger Regiment for six years, used the TCCC recommendations to establish a Ranger First Responder program. Every Ranger -- not just the medics -- was trained and provided with the tools to save lives using TCCC on the battlefield. In more than 8 ½ years of conflict, not a single Ranger from this unit died from external hemorrhage.