KUWAIT CITY -- Once linked as student and teacher, now as colleagues, two senior military dentists -- one Kuwaiti, one American -- came together to provide continuing education for U.S. and Kuwait military medical professionals at Kuwait's North Military Medical Complex, May 11.

Col. Nawaf Jandoul Al-Dousari, medical director of the Al-Jahra North Military Medical Complex, Kuwait, and U.S. Army Col. Thomas Koertge, division surgeon for the 29th Infantry Division, have collaborated along with the Area Support Group-Kuwait Command Surgeon, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ronald Wells, to develop and deliver a continuing education lecture series for medical professionals assigned to the North Military Medical Complex, Kuwait, as well as U.S. military medical personnel serving here in Kuwait.

"We are planting a seed, and I hope to see that seed become a beautiful tree," Nawaf said in his opening remarks to the crowd of more than 50 medical professionals in attendance.

Nawaf and Koertge spoke to their specialties, prosthodontics and periodontics, respectively, and focused on treatment for diabetic patients.

The opportunity to see how far a former student goes is one that teachers at every level live for. For Koertge, that opportunity came along with the 29th Infantry Division's deployment to Kuwait.

"It's one thing to see a student do well in class, but the reward of getting to see them go beyond the classroom and do great things is truly satisfying," Koertge said.

Attendees gathered for a small reception to sum up the day with a focus on patient care and team work.

"Success is not just fixing teeth. It's changing the patient's behavior to prevent the condition from recurring," said Nawaf.

U.S. Army Capt. Sam Sigoloff, a family medicine physician assigned to the 86th Combat Support Hospital, was among the attendees. Sigoloff was enthusiastic about the training.

"This was a great opportunity to see the relationship between dentistry, family medicine, and nursing. Proper patient care is all about teamwork," He stated.

In 1995, Kuwait and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry established a training program for Kuwaiti dentists. Over the years, Kuwait has sent some 90 students through the program, all of whom have returned to Kuwait to provide dental services in some capacity.
It was through this program in 1997 that Koertge originally met Nawaf, then a new student to the doctor of dental science program at the VCU School of Dentistry.

Following his current deployment, Koertge will return to his duties as the Commander for the Virginia Army National Guard Medical Command and as the Vice Chair in the Department of Periodontics, VCU School of Dentistry, where he has been on the faculty since 1982.
The day highlighted the partnerships in patient care, and collaboration between the United States and Kuwait.