Carl. R. Darnall Army Medical Center (CRDAMC) is now officially a clinical training site for Texas A&M University Health Science Center medical students.

Fort Hood military officials and Texas A&M University representatives have formalized an affiliation agreement that will offer Texas A&M University Health Science Center medical students 30-day rotations in various Carl. R. Darnall Army Medical Center's departments, including emergency medicine, family medicine, psychiatry and internal medicine.

According to Col. Mark Thompson, CRDAMC commander, the agreement will help Darnall grow as an academic medical center, influence the training of future Texas physicians and extend the hospital's ambassadorship responsibilities.

"This is another step on our path to become an even bigger and better academic medical center," he said, touching on CRDAMC's Central Texas location. "We have a pretty large medical infrastructure here, and it just seems right as a good neighbor that we should spend some of our time and effort training some of the future physicians of Texas."

Another benefit, according to officials, will be exposure to military life, since the medical students will be living on Fort Hood during their rotations. This, in addition to the civilian physicians tending to military patients, Thompson said, fulfills a goal of both III Corps Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Paul funk II, and Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley, to increase the Army's interaction with its citizens.

"This will help us understand what is important in their lives and for the students to understand what things are important in military service members' lives, " said Thompson, adding that Fort hood and the CRDAMC partnership will likely be the first time the medical students will have interacted with the military. "These medical students, in a small way, allow us to be the face of America's Army."

The partnership, according to Col. James Lucas who will serve as the program's dean, also will offer the medical students an opportunity to explore new technologies and techniques working with wounded warriors, post- traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.

"This partnership will provide diversity," said Colonel Lucas, who is a practicing ENT physician, as well as CRDAMC's deputy commander for surgical services. "This formal affiliation establishes us not just as a medical institution, but also as an academic institution."

Fort Hood officials signing the ceremonial document were Col. Todd Fox, Fort Hood Garrison Commander, as well as Colonel Thompson and Colonel Lucas. Texas A&M officials participating in the ceremony were John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System; Michael K. Young, president of Texas A&M University; and Carrie L. Byington, MD, dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine, senior vice president of Texas A&M University Health Science Center and vice chancellor for the university's health services.

According to officials, the agreement will provide education and training opportunities to Texas A&M medical students in their second to fourth year. It also will provide leadership opportunities for CRDAMC's medical personnel. Approximately 60 students will participate in the program beginning this September school year with an average of five to eight students enrolled in each 30-day rotation.

"This opportunity for my students is exceptional," said Dr. Byington, "They will be able to train with some of the best physicians in the country who are active duty and learn about active-duty service conditions.

Byington also said the exposure to the military population could generate an interest in a military career and military medicine.

"They will be in a facility that is all about service, and I think that will align very well with their values and hopefully will inspire them to consider a future in military medicine," she said.

Chancellor Sharp praised the agreement as a "shining example at how university and the military work together" with President Young emphasizing that the learning opportunities will benefit not only the citizens of Texas, but the Unites States and the world.

"For that reason, this particular relationship is important because we not only seek opportunities among the most sophisticated facilities in the country but among the very best doctors," he said. "Out of this activity will be new ways of treating diseases, new ways of addressing traumatic injuries and new ways of f advancing frontiers of medical science."

The agreement, said Thompson, also will aid in readiness.

"This agreement aids us in our readiness mission and will greatly enhance the care we deliver at Fort Hood," he said. "We serve an incredible group of patients that have a number of experiences, and this will allow the students new opportunities to see patients and diseases and injuries they may not have seen before."