FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Vanderbilt University Medical Center, or VUMC, is now an official site for U.S. Army Military-Civilian Trauma Team Training, or AMCT3, a move that will help Fort Campbell’s medical personnel achieve the highest standards of care before deployment.
AMCT3 works to create medical training opportunities for Soldiers by assigning them to civilian trauma centers, and VUMC is now one of the few centers participating nationwide. Personnel assigned to the 772nd Forward Surgical Team, 586th Field Hospital, 531st Hospital Center, 44th Medical Brigade, will have the chance to embed at VUMC for up to three years or on recurring rotations.
“This partnership allows the military to learn from our civilian counterparts and vice versa,” said Lt. Col. Danielle Holt, chief of the Department of Surgery at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital. “The folks we take care of here at Fort Campbell are a really young, active-duty population, so we’re not necessarily seeing the critical care component of some of the surgical procedures. Rotating down in Nashville would make sure those skills are sharp.”
VUMC formalized the AMCT3 partnership with representatives from the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s office during a signing ceremony March 24 after the Army identified a need for additional trauma readiness.
BACH and VUMC are no strangers to working together, and Holt said their partnership dates back about seven years. Some Army physicians are already embedded there under other contracts, including Maj. Lucas Groves, U.S. Army Medical Activity, and an assistant professor of Ophthalmology at Vanderbilt University.
“We’re hoping by expanding to some of these civilian partnerships like the one we’ve initiated at Vanderbilt that we can not only maintain those skills but grow on things that we’ve learned,” Groves said. “Being on the forefront of an academic medical center where they’re always changing and advancing, you’re not only going to maintain your skill set but add some things to your surgical toolbox.”
Groves said trauma training is critically important for mission readiness and helps medical personnel prepare to treat wounded Soldiers in combat situations.
“The main thing is increasing our competence in taking care of combat casualties, and increasing our confidence and overall ability to do well,” said Lt. Col Daniel Stinner, a Soldier assigned to BACH and an orthopedic trauma surgeon at VUMC. “We’ve been in this era of low combat casualties coming back from theater, but if you’re deployed for an extended period of time and you don’t get that exposure to a lot of trauma patients downrange, you’re still expected to perform at a high level when one does cross the door.”
Holt said BACH expects to have five physicians embedded and receiving additional exposure to trauma patients by this summer, with more to follow as the program builds.
“The thought is that once you get the physicians with all their credentials and processes in place, we can start bringing in the rest of the team,” she said. “Initially, we’re going to be focusing on the 772nd FST, and the rest of the folks, at least for now, are going to be more individual augmentees until the program has been established and gotten off the ground.”
Stinner said the ultimate goal is to have general surgeons rotating through VUMC within the next calendar year, and that Fort Campbell, BACH and Vanderbilt’s leadership are all working to facilitate that.
“By building a network between Vanderbilt and Fort Campbell physicians, we can essentially be a conduit of care for the patients,” he said. “That means we can have better continuity of care for our military servicemen and women when they have an injury or some sort of trauma that’s too complex for us to take care of at the military treatment facility. It makes it a lot easier for us to facilitate care to the patient at Vanderbilt where we have the ability to do that sort of disciplinary care at a much higher level.”
Soldiers fighting overseas could also see higher levels of care once BACH’s surgeons start their training rotations through VUMC, Holt said.
“When the team deploys, they haven’t only undergone individual skills training and maintenance, but team training and validation,” she said. “Regardless of the injury pattern they see when they’re deployed, they’re able to fully care for all of our service members to the best of their ability without having the learning curve we go through in between the intensity of conflict and deployment.”
BACH and VUMC are looking to eventually bring other programs under the AMCT3 agreement’s banner, which would expand training opportunities in a variety of medical fields and benefit both organizations, Groves said.
“By being one of the first to have this military-civilian partnership, Vanderbilt has the opportunity to be one of the premier military medical training sites,” Stinner said. “The future possibilities and potential growth of this program are limitless.”