By Kenneth Blair Hogue, USAMITC Public AffairsMarch 14, 2011
FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS - As the Military is moving on in a more joint service operational direction, the United States Army Medical Information Technology Center is coming on strong in its contribution to this effort in the form of its Fellowship Program.
USAMITC works 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year supporting Army Medicine by providing optimum joint healthcare enterprise service to our Warfighters, customers and Soldiers worldwide.
The USAMITC Fellowship Program encourages leaders from Military Departments to participate in recognizing and exploiting opportunities and challenges that concurrently will enhance medical information technological operations and business practices. This program requires the selection of an officer who will serve for a year on station for an operational assignment at USAMITC. The program is generating interests from all Branches of the Military.
The Air Force recently nominated Capt. Kevin Underwood for the Fellowship Program. Capt. Underwood was previously stationed at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia. He was looking to continue his education, "The Air Force offers opportunities for Air Force Institute of Technology programs, Education with Industry programs and Fellowships," he said. "I had applied to for an AFIT program to attend a civilian university to receive a Master's Degree. As part of the process, I submitted a package to the Air Force Medical Service Developmental Education board, who later selected me for the position." It was about five months from the time he submitted his package to the time he was notified of his selection, "I was selected for this Fellowship at USAMITC, and was very honored to be offered this opportunity," he said. Capt. Underwood is the second officer to participate in USAMITC's Fellowship Program.
After an officer is selected for this program, USAMITC screens and assesses for potential and determination based on Fellowship Program objectives in comparison to officer experience level, individual skills and qualifications. With a Bachelor's Degree in Information Systems and experience in management, finance and information systems prior to joining the Air Force, Capt. Underwood matched the Defense requirement.
USAMITC places the officer with an operating division to assume a responsible position that encompasses researching, assessing, building effective perspectives and strategies, collaborating with members of the others services and providing valuable insights to the USAMITC Command Team. It is an opportunity for an officer to help globalization of a joint healthcare IT program. Capt. Underwood has been assigned and is working on IT benchmarking, gathering data and doing analysis for the command, under the guidance of Albert Dickson, USAMITC's Chief Information Officer. "The Air Force has a strong culture of measurement in the area of clinical business intelligence," said Dickson. "USAMITC is capitalizing on that as we seek to build a similar culture of measurement within the U.S. Army Medical Command."
USAMITC normally provides a placement rotation for the officer of one year. The officers are also provided access to documentation, standard operating procedures, technical information and other project information as required, giving them a chance to learn another military branch's way of doing business.
There is a template for Fellowship participants to follow, but when Capt. Underwood arrived, his vision of the scope of this Fellowship grew, "A new metric and benchmarking initiative began when I arrived here, so I'm working directly with the CIO, Mr. Albert Dickson, on this project," said Underwood. "This will provide the MEDCOM the value of IT and allow for quick improvements within the organization." It is a larger scope and purpose but worth the investment of using a Fellowship recipient to be on the team.
Throughout the year, the Fellowship officer can rotate into jobs that would best utilize their skills and experience and provide them with a view of enterprise systems management at the operational level. "Each service branch has different strengths, so being able to leverage those strengths can prove to be very beneficial," said Dickson.
Capt. Underwood really enjoys it here, and says he continues to learn a lot and looks forward to learning more, "This is an incredible opportunity to see how the Army operates in regards to Medical Information Systems," he said. "It will also provide an opportunity for me to share with the Army what the Air Force does. This experience also provided me a different perspective that I can take back with me when I go back to the Air Force side," he stated. "I'll take what I learned here to my next assignment, which as of now is the Air Force Medical Operations Agency. The benchmarking and metrics work will have a direct impact on what I'll be working on when I get there," he added. "Also, I will have made important contacts at USAMITC that I can keep in touch with. This will allow me to maintain a valuable flow of information through that next assignment," he concluded.
"It would be nice for this program to expand within the Air Force and to extend over to the Navy," said Dickson. "Having Capt. Underwood here has been an asset, as the Fellowship program is definitely a beneficial program," he added. Dickson also said this program is beneficial because of what all the Fellowship officers can learn and be exposed to, "USAMITC, being one of the premier enterprise providers in the Department of Defense, has a lot of cutting edge programs and projects going on from our Enterprise Service Desk which supports over 80,000 users to our desktop visualization efforts. USAMITC continues to initiate and adopt cutting edge technologies and services," he concluded.