By Sgt. Karl Williams, 3rd BCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div.August 19, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas - Patients waiting in the emergency room of Fort Hood's Carl R. Darnell Medical Center (CRDAMC) may find themselves being cared for by Cav Soldiers.
Medics from 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are taking part in medical proficiency training to improve their communication skills and to strengthen their ability to work with patients with a variety of illnesses.
Medics work under hospital supervisors for one month; two weeks in the emergency room, one week in labor and delivery and one week in the medical surgery ward.
Staff Sgt. Robert Casto, a senior medic with the regiment, said at the post medical center, medics have more opportunities to interact with an assortment of patients that they don't usually service at their troop medical center.
"In advance individual training medics are taught 'battlefield medicine', but in a clinical setting their interpersonal skills are not as developed," said Casto, from Girard, Pa.
"The ability to work side by side with hospital personnel presents our medics with an opportunity to refine these skills and to learn about existing practices from other medical professionals," he said.
Sgt. Stephanie Brown said some medics do not understand that along with seeing the battlefield injuries they will also see the bumps, bruises, rashes and colds - everyday illnesses.
"I could see they were not getting the empathy, sympathy and (caring)," said Brown, a medic with 6th Sqdn., 9th Cav. Regt.
A recent graduate of the program, Pvt. Javin Grisham said working at Darnell wasn't what he had expected.
"Forget about easing me in. I was put to work right away," said Grisham, a native of Bemidji, Minnesota.
"Working in labor and delivery was highly stressful. It provided me with realistic experiences while under stress, and prepared me to work with mothers who may be irritable due to concerns about their pregnancies," he said.
"The training taught me how to communicate with patients regardless of their illness and in different situations allowed me to rely on my training instead thinking," Grisham said.
The staff at CRDAMC used every opportunity to educate the medics about patients they wouldn't usually see at their troop medical clinic.
"The doctors and nurses provided the medics with supervised hands-on experience with actual patients and helped them understand the clinical reasons behind the care," said Lt. Col. Weaver, a physician assistant at CRDAMC.
"Darnell is a patient centric facility," said Weaver, from Eddy, Texas. "Here we are judged on how well we take care of our patients, attentiveness we pass along to the medics" he said.
"The medics gain confidence and valuable experience which they can rely on later at their TMC or during the deployment," he added.
"Being in a line unit, you are always around the guys, but here I am around a lot of new people which is helping me with my people skills," said Spc. James Pearce, from Lebanon, Mo.
"Understanding of how to better communicate with patients will lead to better evaluations and treatments," said Pearce, whose currently going through the training.
Medics said their training at Darnell prepared them well to care for wounded Soldiers and Iraqi civilians during the deployment.
"We expect medics who have been through the training to be more knowledgeable, confident and able to handle a clinical setting better than before the training," Casto said.