HONOLULU -- Nearly 30 medical personnel from various units and commands on Oahu have been meeting in the pre-dawn and post-dusk hours before and after work over the past several weeks.

The Soldiers, hailing from Tripler Army Medical Center, Public Health Command-Pacific, U.S. Army Dental Activity-Hawaii and 18th Medical Command-Deployment Support, are hoping their long hours and hard work will pay off and earn them the right to wear the Expert Field Medical Badge during the next course offering program, which begins Oct. 29.

Candidates from across the region to include Korea and Alaska will join Hawaii-based Soldiers at Schofield Barracks to vie for the honor of wearing the badge.

"(The) EFMB is signifies exceptional competence and outstanding performance of medical personnel," said Capt. Tanekkia Taylor-Clark, who is participating in the training when she's not on duty as the clinical nurse officer in charge, General Surgery Ward, TAMC. "It is an honor to be able to compete for such a prestigious badge."

Established in 1965, the EFMB is a highly-coveted and sought-after Department of the Army-level special skill award for the recognition of exceptional competence and outstanding performance by field medical personnel. The test measures an individual medical Soldier's physical fitness, mental toughness and ability to perform to standards of excellence in a broad spectrum of critical medical and Soldier skills.

"It is a rigorous test that challenges the mental and physical abilities of the Soldiers seeking it," explained 1st Lt. Matthew Tullia, who served as the training officer in charge and is the deputy chief, Health Physics Section, Department of Preventive Medicine, TAMC. "While not a test of the most cutting-edge technologies and medical practices, the EFMB is a test of the basic tenets, which form the foundation of modern military medicine and Soldier skills, specifically in a combat field environment."

Participants are tested on medical, evacuation, communication and combat skills. They also must successfully complete a written examination, a 12-mile march and day and night land navigation courses.

For many, working on earning the EFMB is a way to be challenged outside of today's typical medical environment.

"The training 1st Lt. Tullia coordinated for us has been very helpful," said 1st Lt. Rachel Hanlon, registered nurse, General Surgery Ward, TAMC. "I've gotten to work on Soldier tasks that I don't normally get to practice in the hospital (setting)."

Prior to sending its Soldiers to an official EFMB course, units are required to help prepare and train its participants. Since late August, EFMB hopefuls have been meeting three days a week, spending more than 60 hours total learning the ins and outs of the EFMB qualification course from eight current EFMB holders who served as volunteer instructors.

"After I earned my EFMB in Korea, I felt an obligation as a badge holder to return to Tripler and train other Soldiers to earn the EFMB," Tullia said. "I wanted to conduct the most thorough and comprehensive training possible to motivate (TAMC's) Soldiers to see past the 15 percent pass rate and empower them to earn this coveted badge."

The training, while grueling, is designed to challenge Soldiers under conditions designed to replicate the fog of war.

"Only a small population of medical personnel has earned the EFMB," Taylor-Clark said. "As a nurse, the EFMB is important to me because it reminds me that I am a Soldier first ... physically and mentally tough."

Did you know?
The Expert Field Medical Badge isn't just for medics or people involved with patient care. Any Soldier, regardless of rank, who has a medical military occupation series or medically-related position within Army Medicine, to include veterinarians, dentists, lab technicians, health care administrators, officers in training at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and Army officers enrolled in the Health Professions Scholarship Program, and warrant officers who are assigned to an air ambulance unit, are eligible to earn and wear the EFMB.

Page last updated Fri October 19th, 2012 at 23:09