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    Program offers Iraqi doctors hands-on training with USD-C partners

    Program offers Iraqi doctors hands-on training with USD-C partners

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Kimberly Johnson | Sgt. Jonathan Strand (left), combat medic with the 547th Medical Company, 261st...... read more read more

    BAGHDAD –According to World Health Organization, Iraq ranks among the bottom third of the world’s countries in healthcare for its citizens.

    The U.S. Department of State Provincial Reconstruction Team – Baghdad, United States Division – Center, and the 547th Medical Company, 261st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 807th Medical Brigade, United States Forces – Iraq, are working to help change that through “Over the Shoulder” training for newly graduated Iraqi doctors.

    Over the Shoulder training gives recent graduates of Iraqi medical schools the opportunity for hands-on training taught by U.S. soldiers on Forward Operating Base Prosperity, in Baghdad.

    “The Iraqi medical community wants to see how the U.S. does medicine,” said Dr. Mike Bunning, senior health adviser with the PRT–B, and a San Antonio, native. “The Iraqis have come from more than 30 years of being isolated and they are eager for this [training program]. There is a consistent message whenever [the PRT] talks with Iraqi physicians and that is that they are looking for exposure to Western and European styles of medicine.”

    Bunning said his team decided the best way to offer such training was within the U.S. military setting. It is basic Western medicine, done the same way as it is done back in the U.S. The only difference here is the medical professionals are wearing a different uniform.

    “There are two main differences in the Iraqi and the Western medical systems—the physician’s role and follow-up care,” said Capt. Steve Showalter, officer-in-charge of the medical clinic with 547th Medical Company, and a Johnstown, Pa., native. “The U.S. preaches a teamwork approach. There are many different medical personnel in the U.S. medical system who support the doctor. In Iraq, the physician does everything. He is in charge of all the pieces.”

    The two-week curriculum focuses on combat medic training, administrative databases, laboratory systems, radiology, dental procedures and medical supply.

    “The hands-on training is the most beneficial to the Iraqi doctors because they do not get the mannequins or the resources to train and utilize supplies in their medical school,” Showalter said.

    Bunning said the intent of the program is to show the Iraqi doctors different ways of doing things. In the Iraqi system, there is not a warm patient-physician interaction, nor is there much preventative care advice given to patients.

    “It’s the hope, as the new generation of doctors comes onboard and they see places to make improvements within the Iraqi health system, they will make those changes,” he said. “The Western medical style will not work here—we know that and they know that. But there are certain aspects of Western medicine that would vastly improve the way they provide healthcare.”

    Bunning said for some of the Iraqis, Over the Shoulder training is the first time they have come face-to-face with an American soldier. However, in Iraq, all medical students are taught in English. As a result, the language barrier is broken because they can speak to each other without using an interpreter, making training even more efficient.

    “It’s a tremendous partnership,” Showalter said. “These are young physicians and they can take the tools and the experiences [U.S. medical professionals] provide them and use them throughout their lifetime.”

    Bunning said so far there have been 30 graduates of the program, with a waiting list of more than 200 Iraqi doctors ready to begin.

    “[The U.S.] needs to continue this program as long as there is a U.S. presence in Iraq,” Bunning said. “The exchange does nothing but bring us closer together, breaks down barriers and allows [the Iraqis and the U.S. service members] to see each other as they really are.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 11.01.2010
    Date Posted: 11.02.2010 04:09
    Story ID: 59262
    Location: BAGHDAD, IQ 

    Web Views: 187
    Downloads: 21

    PUBLIC DOMAIN