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Students Learn About Front-Line Army Medicine, Operating Room

On April 18, the Belmont School of Nursing hosted the U.S. Army 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion. The battalion travels across the southeast to educational institutions and venues to introduce students to careers in Army medicine. The focal point was the setup of a Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter (DRASH), a collapsible front-line operating room that was set up in the Inman Center lobby.

Students were given a full tour of the DRASH by active Army medics.

Inside the DRASH, active army medics gave tours and discussed their own deployment experience. “It was interesting to hear how they can set it up so quickly,” said student Ryan Shelquist. “The surgeries and the amount of equipment and the ability to stabilize and prep a patient are really impressive.”

Over the course of the day, more than 100 interested students stopped by to learn more about the tent and potential careers in army medicine. Informational material was made available, along with the option to sign up online for additional information.

Nurses and nursing students also had the opportunity to attend a one-hour continuing education (CE) course titled “Ulcer Prevention and Staging.” The course was taught by CPT Melanie Bowman, who graduated from Belmont’s nursing program in 2005. Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Margaret Wilmoth, who served as the assistant for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, also helped lead the CE course. Students also had the chance to talk with Bowman and Wilmoth one-on-one. “This is a great opportunity for [students],” said Martha Buckner, director of Belmont’s undergraduate nursing program.

The DRASH is used in the field by Forward Surgical Teams (FST), which tend to the most critically injured. “They treat life, limbs and eyesight,” explained Lisa Simunaci, the advertising and public affairs chief for the battalion. “They treat the people that otherwise wouldn’t make the transport [to the hospital].”

Each DRASH unit is able to treat 30 cases over the course of 72 hours before having to be resupplied. Within one hour of being deployed, the entire unit can be constructed and fully functional. A single emergency bed can be assembled within three minutes.

Each FST is composed of 20 different specialists, and typically includes four surgeons, three RNs, two certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), one administrative officer, one detachment sergeant, three licensed practical nurses (LPNs), three surgical techs and three medics. Every member of the team is specially trained and certified before entering the field.

Students who are interested in a career in army medicine can apply for a number of different scholarships. Some scholarships will even pay for medical school. However, they are very competitive and specific. “We don’t take just anyone,” said Simunaci. “We need certain people.” Those who would like more information on obtaining scholarships can visit this website.