FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Medics and other health professionals on Fort Campbell can participate in a monthly lunch and learn at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital to expand their medical skills.

The training is conducted by physician assistant students of the Phase II Interservice Physician Assistant Program who are completing clinical rotations at Blanchfield. The class meets on the second Wednesday of the month at noon in the hospital's Command Sergeant Major Classroom.

"We have a class that we put together on a monthly basis for 68W, which is your combat medic. and any other medical MOS (military occupational specialty) that we have on post are invited. It usually involves a power point presentation and then hands-on [instruction] in order to solidify what they just learned. By doing this, the PA students learn how to teach their medics, which is a good 50 percent or more of what PAs on the active duty side do on a daily basis," said Maj. Jill Spackman, Blanchfield's IPAP Phase II program director.

Physician assistants serve as the primary medical provider to Soldiers in battalion and division level units and are responsible for unit medical readiness and training medics. They can also provide garrison healthcare to Soldiers, family members, and other eligible beneficiaries.

The Army trains about 150 Soldiers annually through IPAP, providing Soldiers an all-expense-paid path to a career in the medical field as a physician assistant and a commission for Soldiers selected from the enlisted ranks.

After completing 16 months of basic medical sciences and clinical medicine courses during IPAP Phase I in San Antonio, Texas, Army physician assistant students complete 13 months of clinical rotations at one of 15 Army medical treatment facilities. Students rotate through about 20 primary care settings and specialty services, like dermatology, internal medicine, and behavioral health in order to gain knowledge and experience.

In addition to learning to practice medicine, IPAP physician assistant students at Blanchfield are gaining leadership experience and preparing to train the medics in their unit.

"I think what we do at Fort Campbell is awesome. Sometimes it's tedious, but, it's awesome. We have to do a lot of extra classes, we teach medics, and we have to do case presentations. So, it really makes you have to think outside the box, prepare, stand in front of people and give presentations that I think will help us down the road when we're actually seeing patients," said Capt. Dakota Mitchell, an infantry officer who is now an IPAP phase II student. "And as the battalion PA, our job is to train medics, so when we have these medic classes, that allows us to do face-to-face time with medics to try to know what they are thinking, how we can better them, and at the same time better ourselves."

During this month's training, Mitchell and fellow IPAP phase II student, Capt. Zachary Quigg, taught participants about ultrasound machines and their uses in evaluating patients.

"We wanted something that they hadn't really seen but potentially may see. You know it's a super versatile machine that not a lot of people know how to use or have hands on practice with," said Mitchell. The training appeared to hold the interest of participants, who also had an opportunity to apply their new knowledge and get hands-on experience with the machine.

"I really liked the training today because there was a lot of hands on. I can actually see what's happening in our body through the ultrasound because before I only knew by the text book, but now I can see it on the ultrasound machine. It kind of motivates me," said Spc. Wooyoung Chun, a patient administration specialist assigned to 626th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division -- "Assurgam".

Blanchfield has about 14 physician assistant students at any given time going through the Phase II training pipeline.