LANDSTUHL, Germany – Overseas military ID card holders who are students studying in a health care-related subject can participate in a college-credit program while living overseas.
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s College Practicum Program, provides eligible participants with the opportunity to earn their degree while in Europe through comprehensive practicum and field experience completed at the military hospital or any one of its six outlying clinics throughout Europe.
“So long as their sponsor and themselves are stationed in the LRMC area of responsibility and are not scheduled to leave before their program ends they can apply, given they have also satisfied prerequisites as prescribed by their educational program,” said Jocelyn Baines, director of student coordination, Education Division, LRMC. “The program lasts as long as your practicum or field experience hours are, as long as we’re able to accommodate and facilitate that training.”
The program aims to improve military family welfare while stationed overseas and provide training in a secure, familiar environment.
“I think it's an amazing opportunity because sometimes it's very difficult when you're stationed overseas to go and complete your degree. I know when I was a spouse, it was hard going station to station and then either had to start over, or wait until you got back to the (Continental United States),” said Baines. “There's lots of changes and things that happen (for military families), with program like these you're still able to achieve your goals.”
For Natalie Svendsen, who is working toward her Master of Science in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner, the program allows her to continue striving toward her goal.
“As a military spouse, one of the biggest obstacles is being able to advance yourself professionally, whether it be through continued education or seeking employment,” said Svendsen. “When I found that we were moving to Germany, I had a wave of emotions, mostly excitement. However, there was a part of me that was apprehensive about what (unemployment) would look like professionally for me.”
Svendsen, who has been a registered nurse for eight years, had been pursuing her Masters for the past two years and was worried what consequences an overseas assignment could have on her career.
“Overall, (applying for the program) was an extensive process but I felt fully supported by the education department. I am well aware, that as a civilian student, I am not directly benefiting the hospital, yet (LRMC staff) never gave up on me and stayed dedicated to make this possible for me as a military spouse. For that, I am incredibly grateful.”
According to Svendsen, who began her clinical rotations at the Family Medicine Clinic at LRMC, the diverse patient population provided a clinical experience she wasn’t expecting from the program.
“I had the opportunity to provide hands-on patient care and documentation with preceptors,” said Svendsen. “They were eager to educate me, mentor me, and provide me with the best educational experience possible. They willingly took me under their wing and helped me take the next important step toward obtaining my nurse practitioner degree.”
Svendsen, slated to complete her degree by November 2021, says the experience helped motivate her to reach her goals and has stirred excitement for what her future in medicine holds.
In addition to the College Practicum Program, LRMC also hosts a Shadow Program to allow individuals interested in health care to observe what different professions entail.
“The shadow program requires base access and is open to Americans and local nationals after a background investigation,” said Baines. “The program is short-term, less than 90 days.”
According to Baines, although the Shadow Program doesn’t provide college credit, hours of observation are documented which is a requirement for some health care professions and degrees. Additionally, the program is open to any clinical profession within the hospital, from physical therapist to physician, if LRMC staff can accommodate.
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is the only forward-stationed medical center for U.S. & Coalition forces, Department of State personnel, and repatriated U.S. citizens and largest U.S. hospital outside the United States. LRMC serves as the sole military medical center for more than 205,000 beneficiaries throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.