Training Tomorrow' Military Surgeons: Lessons from the Past and Challenges for the Future

Northern Deanery.
Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps (Impact Factor: 0.55). 12/2009; 155(4):249-52. DOI: 10.1136/jramc-155-04-03
Source: PubMed


The nature of conflict is evolving, with current warfare being associated with an initial "shock and awe" phase followed by protracted periods ofcounter-insurgency and peace support missions. As conflict has changed, so have the munitions deployed and the resulting patterns of injury. Improvised Explosive Devices have become the preferred weapon of the insurgent and the resultant explosive and fragmentation injuries are the hallmark of modern military wounding. These injuries pose a significant challenge to deployed medical forces, requiring a well-defined, seamless approach from injury to rehabilitation. Traditionally, military medical services demonstrate a poor 'institutional memory' in the maintenance of combat surgical skills. Numerous publications detail the re-learning of key tenets of war surgery by generations of surgeons deploying onto the field of battle. While the maintenance of military surgical capability in trained surgeons may be addressed through combat surgical courses, concern exists as to the generic competency of those currently in training and their ability to deal with the burden of injury associated with modern conflict. The training of junior doctors in the United Kingdom and further afield is in a state of flux. New curriculum development, streamlined and run-through training programmes have combined with the legal requirements of the European Working Time Directive to produce a training landscape almost unrecognisable with that of previous years. This article investigates the development of current military wounding patterns and modern surgical training programmes. It describes processes already in place to address the unique training needs of military surgeons and proposes a framework for enabling appropriate training opportunities in the future.

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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate the activity of visceral surgeons assigned to the Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) (role 3) in Kabul International Airport (KAIA) and identify the skills and qualifications required by these specialists. Between July 2009 and December 2010, all the patients operated by the visceral surgeons were eligible for inclusion in this study. They were International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF), Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) soldiers, non-afghan civilians personnel and local nationals (LNs). They sustained war-related injuries, non-war related trauma emergencies, non-trauma related emergencies or had elective surgical care. The mechanisms and types of injuries, the affected organs and the surgical procedures were collected. Over the period of study, the visceral surgeons treated 261 over 971 patients (26.9%) achieving a total of 438 surgical procedures. Thirty one percent of these procedures were war-related, 26% non-war related, 24.2% non-trauma related emergencies and 18.1% elective surgery. Non-trauma related emergencies and elective surgery required the same skills as in civilian practice. War-related injuries and non-war related trauma emergencies were more challenging. Combined injuries represented 56% of the cases requiring damage control resuscitation procedures and/or treatment of severe burns. Life-threatening thoracic or vascular injuries (30%) required life-saving emergency surgical procedures. A visceral surgeon in a role 3 MTF should master a wide range of skills and expertise to be able to deal with many complex situations, in particular life-threatening situations such as thoracic and vascular wounds. A comprehensive surgical training programme for surgeons in abroad deployment (Advance Course for Deployment Surgery - CACHIRMEX) has been designed and settled up in 2007 to provide these necessary skills. The feedback obtained from each previous deployment demonstrates that the advanced course for deployment surgery provides visceral surgeons the necessary skills required to deliver surgical healthcare in a role 3 MTF. However, a regular assessment of this programme is mandatory to ensure that this training stays appropriate and contributes to better outcomes and a decreased mortality rate.
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    ABSTRACT: The nature of general surgical training within the UK has undergone significant changes recently, including the evolution of the Intercollegiate Surgical Curriculum Programme (ISCP). In 2013, new task-specific goals tailored towards military surgery were incorporated into the general surgery curriculum. In order to meet the demands of training the next generation of military general surgeons, a new compendium of workplace-based assessments (WBAs) is now required. In 2013, the ISCP general surgery curriculum was revised to include new, military-specific WBAs to allow formative assessment of a trainees' experience and preparedness for their future deployed role. Index procedures considered mandatory for a deployed military general surgeon to be effective in the field are now included in the general surgery curriculum. These will permit formative assessment of trainees and also permit revalidation of deployed skills among the consultant cadre. General surgical training in the UK is in a transitional period, and the move towards increased sub-specialisation appears inexorable as evidenced by the split of Vascular Surgery into a separate specialty, along with its own training pathway and curriculum. With the 'generalist' demands on deployed surgeons in the Defence Medical Services, the task of training towards broader surgical competencies may appear daunting. Inclusion of defined military WBAs into the curriculum should help focus trainees and their trainers to identify the deployed general surgical skill set, identify the appropriate learning opportunities/placements required to enable the acquisition of relevant competencies and document their attainment and later retention.
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