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    Navy Medicine West Personnel Spark Interest in STEM during San Diego Fleet Week

    Navy Medicine West Personnel Spark Interest in STEM during San Diego Fleet Week

    Photo By Regena Kowitz | Rear Adm. Tim Weber, Navy Medicine West commander and director of the Navy’s Medical...... read more read more



    Story by Regena Kowitz 

    Naval Medical Forces Pacific

    Staff from Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) and Naval Health Research Center (NHRC), both Navy Medicine commands aligned under Navy Medicine West (NMW), brought a host of hands-on displays to San Diego Fleet Week’s STEM Student Day, Nov. 7.

    Held at the Fleet Week Innovation Zone on Broadway Pier, the event was geared towards getting students excited about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. Delivering on that goal, Navy Medicine technicians and scientists engaged students with several activities that let them learn first-hand how the latest high-tech tools and innovations are used for health care and medical research in the Navy.

    “It was great to see the students getting excited about science,” said Rear Adm. Tim Weber, NMW commander and director of the Navy’s Medical Service Corps, who stopped by to see the displays and watch staff from NMCSD and NHRC share their enthusiasm as they showed students how they use science and innovation every day to improve health and readiness.

    “Science and technology touch every part of our lives today and are vitally important if our nation and our Navy are going to have a competitive edge in the global environment,” added Weber. “Making STEM fun and interactive can spark students' interest and grow it into a lifelong passion that, hopefully, will lead them to careers in STEM-related fields. These students are the doctors, nurses, corpsmen, scientists, and engineers of tomorrow.”

    Technicians from NMCSD’s Bioskills and Simulation Training Center (BSTC) drew crowds of middle-schoolers by featuring one of their high-fidelity simulation manikins that allowed the students to find out what it’s like to provide hands-on patient care by delivering a baby—a plastic one, that is.

    At NMCSD, the BSTC gives health care providers the opportunity to train in a virtual patient care environment using simulated patients and sophisticated technology. This allows them to learn new skills, keep existing skills current, and train as a team so they are always ready to take care of patients, whether in a hospital or deployed setting.

    While visiting the NMCSD exhibit, students also got to examine a patient’s chest and abdomen using an ultrasound simulator and learn more about anatomy with the split training screen that showed what an actual ultrasound image would look like on one side of the screen while displaying a medical illustration of the underlying organs on the other side. Students also got to test their hand-eye coordination by taking a stab at abdominal surgery using a laparoscopic trainer, a device reminiscent of that nerve-wracking childhood game that lets the players pretend to be doctor operating on a patient.

    The team from NHRC provided a variety of interactive exhibits that highlighted the role of science and research in the fields of public health, infectious diseases, human performance, behavioral science, and medical modeling.

    NHRC is one of eight Navy Medicine medical research labs that conduct a broad scope of research, ranging from sleep and fatigue studies and infectious disease prevention to improving mental health.

    “There is more to being in the military than just conducting warfare and, if you’re a scientist there are opportunities to serve our country and conduct cutting-edge research,” said Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Eggan, deputy chief scientist at NHRC. “The research labs within Navy Medicine conduct studies to optimize our warfighters physical and cognitive performance, and enhance operational readiness and survivability.”

    Students who stopped by NHRC’s interactive displays stepped into the world of medical research by learning how to properly smear specimens onto special plates used to test for certain bacteria and exploring how heavy gear, like body armor, can impact the movement and physical readiness of Sailors and Marines.

    Dr. Kenneth Earhart, chief scientist at NHRC and retired Navy doctor, said the students were particularly drawn to their virtual reality exhibit but added they were “equally intrigued by public health, microbiology, physiology” and asked the scientist some challenging and insightful questions.

    “It was just plain fun to see the kids light up with curiosity, laughing and enjoying the adventure of science,” Earhart said.

    This year was the second time the lab got involved in San Diego Fleet Week’s Innovation Zone, setting up displays to highlight their expertise and engage with students.

    “When NHRC was given the opportunity to participate in Fleet Week, the response from our staff was an overwhelming yes,” Earhart said. “It’s wonderful to be able to showcase our work in the city we call home and, of course, the biggest reward was to share our passion with the future generation of scientists.”

    Navy Medicine West (NMW) leads Navy Medicine’s Western Pacific health care system and global research and development enterprise. Throughout the region, NMW provides medical care to nearly 700,000 beneficiaries across 10 naval hospitals, two dental battalions, and 51 branch clinics located throughout the West Coast of the U.S., Asia, and the Pacific. Globally, NMW oversees eight research laboratories that deliver research expertise in support of warfighter health and readiness.



    Date Taken: 11.07.2019
    Date Posted: 11.08.2019 19:17
    Story ID: 351205
    Location: SAN DIEGO, AR, US

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