By Emily YehSeptember 26, 2017
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia -- The second iteration of Regional Health Command-Pacific's medical logistics and nursing subject matter expert exchange (SMEE) took place at the Military Medical Center of Mongolia, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia last week. Nurses and bio-medical equipment technicians (BMET) from RHC-P's Tripler Army Medical Center (Tripler), the 18th MEDCOM (Deployment Support), as well as the U.S. Air Force worked alongside our hosts and colleagues from the Mongolian Armed Forces, directly supporting the region's objectives of providing medically ready forces while conducting health service support.
Thirty years ago, the United States and Mongolia established bilateral relations and this SMEE is now a part of that history. This bilateral exchange demonstrates the continuing U.S. commitment in the region, influencing the understanding and progress that build partner defense capacity.
"Air Force participation in exchanges such as the SMEE in Mongolia is one part of the overall U.S. Pacific Command Theater Security Cooperation plan. The two-part goal includes gaining a better understanding of each other's nursing practice and standards while assessing the opportunity for future cooperation and engagement," explains Lt. Col. Steven Lehr, commander, 36th Medical Operations Squadron, Anderson AFB, Guam.
The nurses and bio-medical equipment technicians that participated were honored to meet new, and greet old, colleagues. The group built upon established relationships with the military and civilian nurses in Mongolia while continuing their work on establishing a framework as it relates to medical equipment procurement, employment and maintenance as well as exchanging ideas about providing nursing care in deployed environments. The participants also discussed leadership development, overall patient care and emergency care.
Maj. Jason Marquart, nursing director and deputy commander Medical Services at Tripler explained that the first exchange that took place in June provided the needs assessment based on training requested. It also paved the way to understanding how to best structure and build the team at the hospital.
"During the second visit, the highlight was seeing the senior head nurses come back in the room with the junior nurses, engage with them and teach them to standard using didactic and hands-on learning techniques," stated Marquart. "This team atmosphere allowed the senior nurses to become the educators while our team became facilitators."
But the understanding and appreciation of the similarities and differences go beyond the classroom. The relationships fostered through this exchange are also a key component to a successful exchange.
"Although we have been doing this SMEE since 2010, this is the first time we have done multiple iterations a few months apart. This continuity and familiarity help us work towards our common goals, with the primary focus being on the readiness of our forces," stated Leading Sgt. Major O. Bayasgalan, Military Medical Center of Mongolia. "Our nurses can jump right in because they are familiar with the group. This time the training during the SMEE also enhanced our capabilities for our upcoming U.N peacekeeping mission to South Sudan."
The entire team was honored to be a part of the SMEE and for the opportunity to interact with our military and civilian counterparts in Mongolia. In the end our goals in the medical field are the same. Saving lives or providing critical care, anywhere around the world, requires the dedication and skill set of medical providers.
"Our entire team would like to thank our nursing counterparts and the Mongolian Armed Forces for hosting us and participating in the subject matter expert exchange. I know the partnerships we developed during this exchange will endure because of our efforts," stated Col. Takata "Lei" Barrell, director, Critical Care Services, Tripler.
Regional Health Command-Pacific's involvement in global health engagements is not unique to what we are doing in Mongolia. The region not only conducts subject matter expert exchanges but also senior leader engagements, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions throughout the U.S. Pacific Command's area of responsibility each year in support of the U.S. Army in the Pacific. This medical logistics and nursing subject matter expert exchange is one of many examples of the continuing U.S. commitment in the Pacific region.
Other members of the team representing the U.S. included U.S. Army Lt. Col. Elizabeth Gum; U.S. Army Maj. Donald Ingrim; U.S. Army Capt. Eric Atencio; U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Thomas; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ramon Pagan; Sgt. 1st Class Jose Maldonado; U.S. Air Force Sgt. Major John Whitney