VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Navy Expeditionary Combat Command successfully completed its first Operational Rotation Medicine course May 2.
The elective course was designed by NECC Force Medical Officer Capt. Bruce Cohen with assistance from other NECC type commander (TYCOM) medical officers for the Uniformed Services University of Health and Science (USUHS) in Bethesda, Md.
The course exposes military medical students to the fleet, providing opportunities for them to meet people they’ll be taking care of.
“I learned a great deal about how the operational environment works and the role of the medical team in keeping everyone in the fight,” said Air Force 2nd Lt. Zachary A. Masters, the first student to complete the class. “I gained valuable insight into the mindset of physicians who need to weigh their medical opinions about the needs of each patient in the context of the mission. This experience with Navy operations should benefit me in the future since the medical community is becoming much more joint.”
During each course, one to three students rotate between different TYCOMs to experience all aspects of medical issues they could possibly face in the future. These rotations are tailored to the student, depending on current operations and what their personal interests are.
“I was very impressed with the variety of options NECC was able to provide for me and their willingness to adjust the schedule around my personal interests,” said Masters. “Capt. Cohen is a very experienced Navy physician and provided valuable advice as well as orchestrating the course.”
During the course, students are given assignments like any other college class. They are given books to read, tasked with strategic thinking, class projects, but primarily it is the students’ job to shadow physicians to see how medicine is practiced in the fleet, what assets the fleet possesses and to learn fleet operations.
“Depending upon the time the student spends here (at NECC), I will run them through the expeditionary assets; anywhere from a couple of days to a week,” said Cohen. “This way, they get to see our Coastal Riverine Force, explosive ordnance disposal, mobile diving salvage units and our Seabee force. Then, I work with other TYCOMs to give them a little time in the surface Navy, air forces, submarine forces and possibly special warfare.”
Students build on the information they’ve learned so when they graduate, pick their residencies and finally go out to the fleet, they have a general working knowledge of what field of medicine they would like to pursue.
“Right now, I am half way through my four years of medical school,” said Masters. “After school, I plan to practice medicine in operational settings as much as possible. I will likely complete an Emergency Medicine residency program.”
The next class is scheduled to begin in August and will have one Navy student.
“Many students aren’t aware of all the opportunities that are out there,” said Cohen. “This class will show them the real world and all the different facets that are available, especially the expeditionary forces.”
NECC is an enduring force providing capability across the full range of military operations in the maritime strategy to include forward presence, maritime security and power projection, now and in the future.