ARMY SURGEON GENERAL VISITS MAYO CLINIC; HELPS BUILD RESERVE PARTNERSHIPS.
Source: Army Reserve Magazine Spring 2002 by Bill Geddes.
Taken from www.findarticles.com
ROCHESTER, Minn. – Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. James B. Peake returned to the roots of the Army Reserve medical community recently, in an effort to help build partnerships for the future.
Peake visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, as a part of a luncheon presentation of Army Reserve opportunities by Army Medical Department (AMEDD) Recruiting. During the visit Peake recognized contributions by the Mayo to the Army Reserve's past.
"The Medical Reserve Corps was started because of the need for health care," Peake said. "That was what ultimately evolved to become the U.S. Army Reserve. That sense of service is a part of the history of the Mayo Clinic. The founding brothers both served in WWI as special consultants (both brothers reached the rank of brigadier general). The Mayo clinic itself fielded special units to go to not just WWI but WWII as well. There is a rich heritage of service. That is one of the things that has helped make this place the great institution that it is."
Reaching out to that rich heritage of service is what drew AMEDD Recruiting and Peake to Mayo. "What they have to offer us," said Peake, "is the quality people who are doing their medical skills day in and day out, that are available to serve their country across the spectrum of operations that we, as a superpower, are required to do."
To help attract those quality people, and to highlight what the Army Reserve has to offer the Mayo clinic, AMEDD Recruiting worked with Army Reservists from the 88th Regional Support Command (RSC) to develop interactive displays highlighting medical opportunities within the Reserve system.
"The Reserves are more extensive than I thought they would be," said Theresa Loessin, a registered nurse in the Uro/Gynecology department at the Mayo Clinic. "They cover a lot more than I thought. You watch "MASH" and they cover the surgical end, but (the Reserve) do a lot more."
Kondra Jones, a first year medical student at the Mayo Medical School agreed, saying she enjoyed learning about the flexibility the Army offers with both Reserve and active duty opportunities.
"That flexibility shows that you can have a family and do civilian medicine and still be there to serve the country and tend to medical needs of those men and women who are fighting for our country," Jones said.
Flexibility was another part of Peake's visit. The opportunity to talk to hospital administrators about the challenges inherent to having Reservists working for the hospital, as well as to Reservists about the challenges their Reserve duty brings to their civilian jobs, helps the Army to be more responsive to the needs of both.
He noted that the need for flexibility was apparent after the Gulf War. Some doctors lost their practice because of time away during the war, and some hospitals were left short-staffed. The Army has already started to respond to the problem.
"What we've tried to do is keep the deployments to a shorter time frame," said Peake. The physicians in Kosovo today are on 90-day rotations, Peake added, unless they opt out or are in command positions.
"The proof will be in the pudding," Peake said, "but so far at least it seems to be a doable thing. They are having a great experience and have a chance to bond with the unit, but are still able to maintain their practice and their skill sets, and therefore, their professional satisfaction."
Peake also pointed out that not all deployments are for 90 days. "Many of the (Reservists) here are gone for two weeks at a time to places like Costa Rica, Guatemala or Nicaragua, helping people," he said. "They see in that time four or five thousand people who otherwise wouldn't have access to any medical care. They come back rewarded and refreshed, they've seen different things, and they're better in their own work environment because of it."
The humanitarian nature of those missions appealed to those attending the symposium, according to Dr. (Lt. Col.) Walter Franz, a consultant in the department of family medicine for the Mayo Clinic, and one of the planners of the event. "The people you talk to, both professionals in and outside of the Reserve, they want to have a feeling that what we do has a humanitarian nature," he said. "They understand the reality that we have to maintain the health of a fighting force, but in times like we're in now, where we're mainly looking at peacekeeping, the humanitarian type of mission has some dividends. People like to see it, it's a good feeling on both sides."
Jones agreed. "For me, the most effective part of the presentation was the humanitarian mission aspect. The financial aspect was also very beneficial; I'd heard about your full tuition and all fees being covered, plus a stipend, which is excellent in medical school because Med students always need money. I really liked the humanitarian missions though."
Good news for Franz. "What I'm hoping is that we would be able to serve as an ongoing reservoir, and benevolent force of providing health professionals at all levels to the Army's mission," Franz said. "I'm hoping that since we're the largest group practicing medicine in the United States, and have a large number of people in practice, that there's strength in numbers, and that we can develop some good partnerships with some very benevolent outcomes.
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