CAMDEN, N.J. -- A group of 10 Army medical professionals are the first to participate in a new program designed to help them sustain battlefield medicine skills. But the doctors and nurses are training far from combat support hospitals in austere locations, instead they are honing their skills in two of the nation's civilian teaching hospitals.

The program, called Army Military-Civilian Trauma Team Training (AMCT3), is a two-to-three year program at Cooper University Health Care (Cooper Univ.) in Camden, New Jersey, and Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon. The goal of the program is to advance military trauma operational readiness for deployment around the globe by partnering with high-volume civilian trauma centers to gain critical teamwork and technical trauma skills.

"We are good at trauma care but remain relentless in our pursuit of zero preventable battlefield casualties," said Brig. Gen. Telita Crosland, commanding general, Regional Health Command-Atlantic, who recently signed letters of commitment on behalf of the Army Surgeon General symbolizing the partnership. "Partnerships with leading trauma centers like Cooper and OHSU allows Army Medicine to leverage a national and global network of support that brings us closer to our goal," added Crosland.

The program gives Army surgical teams and individual Soldiers the opportunity to maintain proficiency and sustain their trauma skills by working alongside civilian counter parts at high-volume Level 1 trauma centers, according to Crosland. Level 1 trauma centers are comprehensive regional facilities capable of providing total care for every aspect of injury.

"This is another first for Cooper, and we are honored and proud to train this elite Army medical team," said George E. Norcross III, Chairman of Cooper's Board of Trustees. "As a high-volume, academic tertiary care Level I Trauma Center, our experience and reputation uniquely positions us to provide the hands-on training and skills this elite team needs to help them save lives on battlefields around the world."

The AMCT3 program addresses the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017 directive for the Military Health System to establish partnerships to maintain trauma care competency along with developing standardized combat care instruction to enhance quality of care outcomes for trauma care.

"Our military medical treatment facilities lack the case acuity, case volume and case diversity that we need to sustain operational readiness," said John Ramiccio, Program Manager, Civilian Partnerships and Programming, G-3/7 Readiness & Training Division, Army Medical Command. "That is why Congress got involved and mandated it in the NDAA because this has been identified as contributive to addressing battlefield outcomes," added Ramiccio.

The program is also inspired by national efforts to stop preventable deaths in people with traumatic injuries. Research has shown that deaths and disabilities due to trauma can be prevented with better training, coordination and streamlined trauma care systems. AMCT3 promotes a two-way exchange of ideas and can help both military and civilian trauma centers improve outcomes for their patients.

"OHSU is proud to partner with the Army in enabling health care professionals to provide advanced trauma care and experience it from new perspectives," said John Hunter, M.D., OHSU executive vice president and chief executive officer of OHSU Healthcare. "We collaborate because we know it will benefit our patients and help us meet our mission to improve the health and well-being of Oregonians and beyond."

The Soldiers assigned to the program were selected because they have medical specialties typically used in military forward surgical teams, such as emergency medicine physician, trauma surgeon, nurse anesthetist, and intensive care and emergency care nurses.

Beyond their medical specialties, Col. Jason Seery, the AMCT3 task force chairman and the Army's senior participant at Cooper University, said the Army looked for Soldiers who could work well with our civilian partners. "They are pathfinders and helping to establish this program for the Soldiers and partner hospitals to follow," said Seery. "We looked for officers who are collaborative, understand the goals of this effort and have a deeper understanding of what trauma team training is about."

One of those officers is Capt. Simon Sarkisian, an Army Forward Surgical Team emergency physician. "I received great training with the military in my emergency medical residency. Here [at Cooper] I'll get to continue that and really get to do trauma, try to excel at trauma and be a trauma expert for the betterment of our Soldiers overseas when we get deployed."

Both Ramiccio and Seery see this strategic partnership as transformational in changing the culture of military medicine from competition to collaboration. "The program is one of the most significant things Army Medicine has done with individual and team readiness in decades," said Seery.

Over the next few years the Army Medical Command hopes to establish at least 10 trauma team training partnerships across the country.