Health care providers from across Europe came together in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany December 12-15 to network and to brush up on their skills during the Regional Health Command Europe Fall Continuing Medical Education Training event.

More than 200 Service members, civilians and Bundeswehr health care providers attended the training that provided an opportunity for them to earn re-licensure credits and discuss topics relevant to the event's theme, "Current fight. Future fight. Always fight."

Throughout the week participants started their day with plenary sessions with topics which included a Strong Europe overview; a Bundeswehr medical update; and an Army Virtual Health overview. The rest of the day was devoted to specialty-specific sessions.

During this iteration of the training event, there were breakout sessions for behavioral health providers; nursing and primary care providers; optometry; and physical therapy.

Bringing these sessions to one location in the European Theater, is a benefit to both the providers and RHCE, according to Michael Sandoval, RHCE Conference Administrator.

"In total our professional staff will earn up to 24 hours of re-licensure credits saving our command thousands of dollars and many man-hours of time away from the clinic if they were to go back to [the states] for similar training," he said.

Lt. Col. Anne Ketz, Chief, Center for Nursing Science & Clinical Inquiry at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, helped plan the conference, and she reiterated Sandoval's point. As U.S. providers living in Europe, "we are sort of isolated here, but we are also isolated from each other within this theater, so this conference helps bridge that gap."

She went on to say that traveling back to the states to complete continuing education credits can be cumbersome.

"Because we are here [in Europe], it can be difficult to get back to the states for some of the professional training opportunities, so this brings it to us as opposed to sending 300 people to the states."

During the breakout sessions, providers participated in mandatory training specific to their career field. For example Behavior health sessions included topics such as Child, Adolescent, and Family Behavioral Health System; The Behavioral Health System of Care; and The Assessment and Management of Patients at Risk for Suicide.

Another big advantage of this training is the networking opportunity.

"I think it is always helpful to take time away from your normal, everyday routine," Ketz said. "But also academically, to get updates on what's new and what's current and to hopefully take away some information to update your practice. The networking is also really beneficial, it gives us a chance to meet our colleagues and share best practices."

For most providers, this training, which depending on their specialty can earn them up to 24 hours of CE credits, fulfills a significant amount of training needed for re-licensure and certifications.

Ketz said some of this training could be accomplished in other ways, but wouldn't be as beneficial.
"You can push out training materials and ask people to read it, but you miss the discussion; you miss the professional interaction," she said.

Through discussions, networking and specialty-specific training, Ketz hopes everyone can walk away with some knowledge gained.

"I hope participants go away feeling the training was valuable, I want them to feel like they learned something they can take home with them."