ExclusiveHow To Become An Army Trauma Surgeon

How To Become An Army Trauma Surgeon


How To Stand Out

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Trauma surgeons can distinguish themselves by becoming certified in critical care surgery by the American Board of Surgery . To earn this certification, surgeons must be certified in general surgery by the ABS, possess a current medical license, have completed a program in critical care surgery and submit a report of care provided during that program, be currently practicing critical care surgery and pass an exam. Certification lasts for three years, and is renewed by the holder submitting a form detailing their current surgical work and licensure status.

A Trauma Surgeons Unique Skill Sets

An ER doctor will treat any patient who enters the emergency room, regardless of their presenting condition. One of their primary skills is to stabilize individuals while making decisions about next steps in their care. The majority of patients who have experienced minor trauma, such as cuts and bruises from a fall will see an ER doctor. Once youve been released, or even admitted, youll usually be assigned to another doctor and not see the ER physician again.

On the other hand, if you fall into a specific medical category, a trauma surgeonenters the scene. Events necessitating a trauma surgeon can range from a serious car accident to a gunshot wound. They are life-threatening because those injuries could affect internal organs. Immediate treatment is necessary by a doctor specially trained to rapidly assess and make decisions about what to do. Trauma surgeons must have confidence in their decisions since often they work with incomplete information.

Although both trauma surgeons and ER doctors must treat patients with compassion and empathy, a trauma surgeon deals with high levels of emotion as well severe physical injuries.

Common surgeries performed by trauma surgeons include:

  • Colon
  • Stomach

Battlefield Surgeon Education Requirements

Becoming a surgeon in any branch of the military requires that you hold a medical degree, either earned from a medical school or osteopathic college . Admissions to medical and osteopathic colleges are highly competitive, typically requiring a bachelor’s degree in science or mathematics, a grade point average of at least 3.5 and good scores on the Medical College Admissions Test .

The military offers some scholarships for medical school but it does not help you to get in you’ve got to do that on your own. There are also loan forgiveness programs available to new medical school graduates and even for physicians who are already practicing. You can get more details on loan forgiveness from Student Loan Hero. Because the needs of the military can change, talk with an Officer Selection Officer who represents the branch of the military you’re considering. The OSO can give you information on many aspects of becoming a battlefield surgeon, including field surgeon salary.

The military offers a joint-service Emergency War Surgery Course, open to Department of Defense trauma surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, surgical specialties and trauma nurses. Registration is available through the service member’s respective branch manager. The training is paid by the DOD and service members earn their regular salaries during training.

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Classroom Studies + Etiquette

Although officer training seems brief, the Military packs a lot of knowledge into a short amount of time. Expect to learn about the following subjects:

  • Military customs, courtesies and etiquette
  • Information about your Service branch and its specific role in the Military
  • Leadership skills, including how to work with enlisted service members
  • International diplomacy

Field training exercises will complement what you learn in the classroom. Although your officer training may not be considered as strenuous as Basic Training, you should start physical training early. Most importantly, you must be within the height and weight standards for your Service, and you will be expected to pass a fitness test. Your exercises will include runs, pushups and planks.

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How To Become A Trauma Surgeon

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To become a trauma surgeon, youll complete medical school and then do 5-7 years of general surgery residency, depending on whether your residency includes a two-year research block. From there, most trauma surgeons do a 1-2 year fellowship in traumatology, surgical critical care, or emergency surgery, for a total of 6-9 years of additional training after medical school.

Pediatric trauma surgery is part of regular peds surgery training. Depending on where the ambulance takes the patient, sometimes it gets managed and triaged acutely at the adult hospital, but ideally goes straight to the pediatric trauma center.

If youre interested in more specific types of trauma, there are other specialties to consider. For example, orthopedic trauma focuses on surgical intervention of traumatic injuries related to bones. If you want to deal with spine and cranial trauma, neurosurgery would be your specialty.

General surgery residency is middle of the road in terms of competitiveness, with an average matriculant Step 1 score of 234, with the national average at 230. As with most surgical specialties, trauma surgery is male-dominated, although not as much as some other surgical specialties like neurosurgery or orthopedics.

As a surgical specialty, your general surgery residency and trauma surgery fellowship will be incredibly taxing with long and often unpredictable hours.

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For Those Currently Serving

Those currently serving should discuss cross-training opportunities with their base personnel office, unit orderly room, First Individual, etc. Some career fields may not let their members cross train due to mission-critical duties, others may permit cross training without objection.

Only commissioned officers may perform advanced medical care such as surgeryenlisted members interested in careers in military medicine will need to pursue becoming an officer and meet the required education and training for both officers and medical personnel. Some programs do both at once, others may not.

These programs include, but may not be limited to the followingeach program requires a commitment to military service as a condition of acceptance into the program.

What follows is not exclusive to those who wish to become Air Force surgeons but those interested in this career path should know all of these options and select the one that best matches current need, anticipated courses of study, and Air Force career goals.

Air Force Graduate Medical Education Residencies And Fellowships

The Air Force Additional Graduate Medical Education program offers residencies and fellowships for many medical specialties, and nearly all residency options are affiliated with non-military campuses in nine different locations.

To be considered for this program, HPSP students must apply to the Joint Service Graduate Medical Education Selection Board at the beginning of their final year of medical school.

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Emergency War Surgery Course

The Emergency War Surgery Course was established to ensure that surgeons and other deploying providers are familiar and proficient with combat casualty care. The goal is to guarantee every injured service member or person on the battlefield is afforded maximal opportunity at survival and to optimize functional outcome. The EWSC course covers approaches to specific injuries and their management as well as recommendations on how to adapt to providing care in a resource restricted environment. Significant emphasis is placed on providing care in accordance with the best practices as outlined in the Joint Trauma System’s Clinical Practice Guidelines . The course goes far above and beyond the information taught in the American College of Surgeons’ Advanced Trauma Life Support.

Part 2 is a specialty specific module for each combat casualty care team member.

  • General Surgery and those who deploy as such as well as surgical technicians – ASSET+
  • Orthopedic surgeons and surgical technicians – COTS+
  • Operational Medical Officers and those who deploy as such – Critical Skills for Expeditionary Medicine
  • Head and Neck – Under development by tri-service, multi-specialty group run out of Uniformed Services University of the Health Science
  • Anesthesia – Under development at USU
  • Emergency Medicine – Under development at USU
  • Emergency Medicine and Critical Care Nursing – Under development by DHA Nursing Readiness Workgroup

The Beginnings Of Trauma Surgery

My Life As an Army Surgeon w/ COL ROY DANKS

The first trauma surgeon in the United States was Dr. George E. Goodfellow, although he didnt start out with that in mind. In November 1880, he opened up a general medical practice in Tombstone, which was, at that time, located in what was known as the Arizona Territory.

On July 13, 1881, a miner suffered a gunshot wound that perforated his small and large intestines as well as his bowel. Dr. Goodfellow suturedsix holes in his organs. The miner survived due to the quick thinking and immediate surgical intervention by Goodfellow.

Throughout the ensuing years, Goodfellow performed trauma surgery on many notorious outlaws as well as Deputy U.S. Marshall Virgil Earp and his brother, Assistant Deputy U.S. Marshall Morgan Earp, who both suffered gunshot wounds at the O.K. Corral in October of 1881.

Through his many emergency surgical experiences, Goodfellow pioneered the use of sterile techniques in treating gunshot wounds. He ultimately became known as a gunfighters surgeon and became the leading authority on managing this type of traumatic injury. His method of what is now known as a laparotomy has become the standard of care associated with penetrating injuries to the abdomen.

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Pros And Cons Of Being A Trauma Surgeon

Trauma surgeons perform emergency surgery on patients suffering from acute illnesses or injuries. These surgeons are licensed physicians and usually work in hospital emergency rooms. Trauma surgeons can earn high salaries, but often work long, erratic work schedules. Read on for more information about the benefits and drawbacks of a career as a trauma surgeon.

Pros of a Career as a Trauma Surgeon
Potential for high pay in May 2014, surgeons made an average of $240,440 annually*
Potentially high demand for these surgeons the number of medical students interested in a surgical career is declining**
Challenging work environment surgeons must combine specialized knowledge with a broad set of skills***
Cons of a Career as a Trauma Surgeon
Surgeons often work longer hours than doctors in other medical fields***
Extensive education required surgeons usually must complete at least six years of training*
Trauma surgeons work long, erratic work hours, often at night****

Coopers Military Diplomatic And Field Surgical Affairs Sponsors Second Asset Course

COL Kirby Gross, lead instructor for ASSET is preparing the learners for their first hands-on portion of lab 1. Learners in the above caption include Cooper Surgical Residents and Fellows, U.S. Army EMTs, LPNs, and OR Scrub Techs, and Coopers AMCT3 embedded team.

Recently, Coopers Military, Diplomatic, and Field Surgical Affairs held its 2ndAdvanced Surgical Skills for Exposure in Trauma course with Cooper surgical residents, trauma fellows, medical students, U.S. Army OR Techs, LPNs, EMTs and Army health care providers assigned to Cooper participating. Nearly 40 participants spent an intensive day of learning about advanced surgical trauma care in Cooper Medical School of Rowan Universitys Anatomy Laboratory with instruction from Coopers highly skilled trauma team.

Developed by the American College of Surgeons and offered at trauma centers and medical schools around the nation, the program was brought to Cooper to expand the training curriculums provided by Coopers Military, Diplomatic, and Field Surgical Affairs department for both military trainees embedded at Cooper as well as Coopers own medical residents, fellows, and students.

Currently offered as an intensive one-day survey class, the program will eventually expand to a two-day offering and will include modules in pre-hospital care. Two additional ASSET courses are planned for 2022.

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The Role Of The Trauma Nurse In The Healthcare Provider Shortage

The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that employment for nurses will increase at a rate of 16% by 2024. There is a national shortage of nurses in general related to the Baby Boomer population entering retirement, and the increased health needs of the growing aging population. In addition, traumatic injuries are expected to increase, as well, which will increase the demand for trauma nurses. It is projected that the South and West will be hardest hit by the nursing shortage. The 12 states expected to have the most acute shortages are Florida, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and New Mexico.

What Its Like Being A Trauma Surgeon

Army surgeons operate on Soldiers in field environment

Doctors joke around sometimes that trauma surgery is kind of like general surgery on steroids.

All of the regular principles that we have in general surgery are still there. And many of the procedures and maneuvers are the same, too. In trauma surgery, you might find yourself removing and reconnecting different portions of the small bowel and colon. You might find yourself removing a portion of the lung, or repairing a hole in the diaphragm. And you might find yourself deep in the abdomen exposing the retroperitoneum to repair a vascular injury.

All of these are techniques, and maneuvers, and procedures that we might do in other areas of general surgery. But the difference in trauma is the urgency and often the speed at which we have to do this work.

And just as trauma surgeons may have to perform surgery in a much more urgent timeframe, these surgeons also must make decisions about patient management, and take action, often with limited information, in the blink of an eye. But more on that in a few minutes.

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Career Options For Trauma Surgeons

Although you may consider a hospital as the only place that employs trauma surgeons, there is a vital need for them elsewhere. Becoming a member of the military or naval medical staff, are career options. Unfortunately, injuries to soldiers are often traumatic, and skilled surgeons capable of remaining calm and effectively performing in high-stress situations are always needed.

Entering the field of medicine can be a gratifying career. But the role of a trauma surgeon is one where your intervention means the difference between the life, and death, of an individual.

Can you begin your career in trauma surgery today?

Indeed yes!

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If youre interested in medical school and becoming a doctor or surgeon, these articles may be of interest to you:

Becoming An Air Force Surgeon Right Out Of High School

The Air Force Recruiting official site advises those interested in joining the military right out of high school that the road to an Air Force Doctor or Air Force Surgeon job is a winding one. Those enlisting and shipping out from high school are eligible to be placed in medical jobs, but in an enlisted capacity only:

None of these enlisted roles lead directly to medical school or a medical degree. To become an Air Force Doctor, you must first complete an undergraduate college degree in pre-medicine.

The official site adds that Air Force ROTC and the Air Force Academy may have financial help available in this area. There are also scholarship programs the Air Force advertises that do not require attendance at a military academy.

AF.mil adds that in order to be accepted into such a program, Applicants must be accepted to or enrolled in a medical school accredited by either the Association of American Medical Colleges or American Osteopathic Association located within the continental US, Hawaii, Alaska or Puerto Rico.

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Matthew Eckert Md And Lieutenant Colonel In The Us Army Joins The General Acute Care And Trauma Surgery Division

Matthew Eckert, MD, joins the UNC Department of Surgery as an Assistant Professor in the Division of General, Acute Care, and Trauma Surgery. He sat down to discuss what inspired him to become not only a doctor but a trauma surgeon and his motivation for getting up each day, saving lives on and off the battlefield, and why he jumps out of airplanes.

Matthew Eckert, MD, joins the UNC Department of Surgery as an Assistant Professor in the Division of General, Acute Care, and Trauma Surgery. He sat down to discuss what inspired him to become not only a doctor but a trauma surgeon and his motivation for getting up each day, saving lives on and off the battlefield, and why he jumps out of airplanes.

Dr. Eckert received his Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Saint Louis University in 2000 and a medical degree from Loyola University in 2004. He completed his general surgery residency at Madigan Army Medical Center in 2010, followed by critical care and trauma/acute care surgery fellowships at Vanderbilt University in 2012. This year, he completed a Master of Health Professions Education program through the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.

What inspired you to become a doctor?

How did you find your path into becoming a surgeon in the military?

An ROTC scholarship funded my undergraduate schooling. I started as a Cadet, going to school every day, and then applied for a deferment to go to medical school at the end of my undergraduate experience.

Air Force Financial Aid For Medical Residencies

Trauma Surgeon, Survivor, and Crusader for Peace | Bulletin Brief | ACS

There is an option called the Air Force Financial Assistance Program which is aimed at those who need to complete their medical residencies. FAP offers more than $45,000 for every year you participate in the program as well as an additional $2,000 a month for living expenses.

Each year you receive payments under this program you are required to commit an equal amount of time in uniform, plus one additional year on top of that.

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