JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Increasing his residents' contributions to emergency medicine research led Maj. Jonathan Monti to earn the title of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant of the Year.

Monti, who is Madigan Army Medical Center's director of the EMPA residency program, earned this inaugural award from the Society of Emergency Physician Assistants at their annual conference in Phoenix, Ariz., in April for his outstanding service and leadership in the field.

"This award, it's not mine; it belongs to my fellow faculty just as much as it belongs to me," said Monti; he also holds the title of the Madigan deputy director of Emergency Medicine Ultrasound Fellowship.

Monti was nominated for his research in combat and operational medicine; he and his team are responsible for creating a program-level research niche that has increased scholarly activity 400 percent, to include invitations to national and international level conferences, international journal publications and grant funds.

Some of this research included evaluating medics' use of ultrasound in combat-specific situations focused on how ultrasound training can improve diagnosis accuracy for skin and soft-tissue infections, and how it can help locate foreign bodies.

"We don't always have doctors or PAs available downrange so we want to see if a medic can use this technology, which is highly portable, and use it clinically on their own without the supervision of a PA or doctor," Monti said.

Maj. Aaron Cronin, deputy EMPA program director, nominated his colleague for his commitment and initiative, and for being a mentor and research trailblazer during Monti's 17-year Army career. "Maj. Jonathan Monti represents the epitome of the emergency medicine physician assistants … (His) dedication to the EMPA profession is unmatched," Cronin said.

In addition to Monti's current research contributions, his career includes deployments with the 82nd Airborne Division and 173rd Airborne Brigade. In fact he was one of three physician assistants to join the combat parachute assault into Iraq during the initial hours of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Monti later became the first emergency medicine physician assistant fellow to complete a doctoral dissertation research project as a part of his fellowship. Most recently, Monti created and led an emergency medicine ultrasound training pathway program.

Monti attributes his recent successes to his team's dynamics. "We were able to recognize each other's strengths and weaknesses and capitalize on those, in terms of how we distribute work on the priorities of the program … Things I've accomplished were impossible without the help of my faculty members."

Madigan's EMPA residency program is one of the few residency programs that incorporate prospective clinical research, or research looking at new data gathered after a study is designed, instead of retrospective research, which looks at historical data. Recommendations that Monti and the EMPA residency program have made through their research are significantly impacting battlefield medical care and exemplify how passionate they are for not only their profession but also their military brethren.

"The reason why we exist is for the frontline Soldiers, to ensure they are getting the highest level, the highest quality and the highest technologically capable care that we can provide them. In order to do that, we have to do research that improves the care that is provided," Monti said.

In many ways Monti's career is coming around full circle, as he attended Madigan's EMPA residency program in 2007-2008 followed by the emergency medicine ultrasound fellowship. Currently, he sits as director of both programs -- his last position before retirement. Monti said he will turn over the EMPA residency program to Cronin with confidence upon his farewell to the Madigan and the U.S. Army.