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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Darnall Army Medical Center, Texas A&M partner to expand medical education opportunities

Special to the HHES

FORT HOOD – Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center (CRDAMC) and Texas A&M University Health Science Center formalized a partnership today establishing CRDAMC as a clinical training site for Texas A&M College of Medicine students with the signing of an affiliation agreement. The collaboration will ultimately lead to even better care for the nation’s active duty military, veterans and their families.

Signed by John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System; Michael K. Young, president of Texas A&M University; Carrie L. Byington, MD, dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine, senior vice president of Texas A&M University Health Science Center and vice chancellor for health services at The Texas A&M University System; Colonel Todd Fox, Garrison Commander, Fort Hood; Colonel Mark W. Thompson, CRDAMC commander; and Colonel James Lucas, CRDAMC deputy commander for surgical services, the agreement will provide education and training to second-, third- and fourth-year Texas A&M medical students. This all-important step advances academic collaboration and supports the hospital’s medical readiness mission by providing leadership opportunities for medical personnel.

“This agreement aids us in our readiness mission and will greatly enhance the care we deliver at Fort Hood,” Col. Thompson said. “Readiness is our number one priority. The education opportunities are mutually beneficial. Not only does teaching medical students challenge our physicians to stay at the top of their game, being in a military medical environment allows medical students the chance to sharpen their critical thinking and communication skills. These skills are indispensable to quality healthcare delivery, whether military or civilian.”

Texas A&M’s unique medical education model provides students the opportunity to complete rotations with key affiliates across the state in a variety of clinical settings ranging from rural and community clinics to specialty hospitals and major, urban health systems. The partnership with CRDAMC will further diversify the college’s clinical offerings, affording students access to unique patient populations and pathologies.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity for our medical students to engage in transformational learning, discovery and innovation and service with impact at Darnall Army Medical Center,” Young said. “From our university’s 140-year heritage of military service to operating today as a nearly $1 billion tier-one research university, the agreement is a perfect fit. We look forward to serving soldiers and their families at Ft. Hood as well as veterans in the surrounding Killeen area.”

The College of Medicine was created by the Teague-Cranston Act to meet the needs of the medically underserved areas of the country—namely retired service members and rural community members. Under Byington’s leadership, the college is recommitting to its charter while simultaneously refocusing other key areas of impact to capitalize on three pillars of success: serving rural and underserved populations, innovation and technology, and military health.

“Given Texas A&M’s military tradition and the A&M System’s commitment to our service members and veterans, it is only fitting that our medical college works hand-in-hand with Darnall Medical Center,” Chancellor Sharp said. “I applaud Dr. Byington’s leadership in re-emphasizing military health care.”

Specialty rotations will begin this fall with CRDAMC’s Army physicians assisting the students. In addition, CRDAMC staff members will serve as the program’s teaching faculty. Annual rotation opportunities will include core rotations in emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, psychiatry and surgery. As the partnership grows, more rotations in other areas are expected.

“Medical and military service are two of the most meaningful ways an American can serve their fellow citizens,” Byington said. “We encourage our students to learn about the special health needs of a variety of populations. A re-emphasis on military medicine brings our focus back to our charter and benefits our students, service members and their families.”

“This allows us the opportunity to really advance CRDAMC’s educational arm,” Col. Lucas said. “We have a lot of students that come through this organization, but to have a formal affiliation establishes us not just as a medical institution, but also as an academic institution as well.”

Lucas will serve as the campus dean for Fort Hood. An Aggie himself, Lucas completed his undergraduate degree at Texas A&M and then went on to graduate from the Texas A&M College of Medicine in 1997. He is a practicing ENT physician and welcomes the opportunity to give back to a school that helped him become the soldier- physician- leader he is today.

The college has made it a point to welcome students like Col. Lucas who are veterans or will commission as physician officers upon graduation and anticipate that this partnership will interest more physicians in a career in military medicine or a career serving veterans and their families.

“The College of Medicine opened its doors 40 years ago with selfless service built into its walls,” Byington added. “This partnership honors our rich legacy and aligns with the Texas A&M core values including Excellence, Leadership and Selfless Service. The rotations that will be provided at the Darnall Army Medical Center provide an experience we can’t offer our students at any other civilian medical center: the chance to serve their country.”

Providing education and training is not a new concept at CRDAMC. Hundreds of students receive training annually through a host of hospital education and graduate medical education programs. The past few months have produced graduates from several Phase 2 military occupational training programs. This summer, CRDAMC will host graduations for 66 OB-GYN specialty nurse corps, emergency medicine and family medicine residency program as well as the Interservice Physician Assistant Program.

“This partnership will support each organization’s mission, and, more importantly, it will benefit the Fort Hood community’s soldiers, family members and retirees,” Thompson said.

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