First Robotic Surgery Training Course for Military


By Debbie Gregory.

At Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, military medical professionals are forging a new path in medicine. The military physicians there are the first ones in the Air Force to use one of the most advanced robotic surgery systems available today.

Keesler Medical Center has acquired two of the newest robotic surgical systems, the da Vinci Xi.

One of the systems will be used for surgeries, and the other one will be used to train military healthcare professionals.

Keesler’s Clinical Research Laboratory has set up a training facility called the Institute for Defense Robotic Surgical Education, where military surgeons can get their official robotic surgery credentials.

While robotic surgeries require systems that are expensive and require surgeons to undergo additional training, there are a number of positive benefits to using robotic surgical techniques, including improved outcomes.

“Robotics is the standard of care for several surgical procedures, and the market in the private sector is exploding,” said Maj. (Dr.) Joshua Tyler, the 81st Surgical Operations Squadron robotic surgery director. “If you’re not doing robotics, you’re not going to be competitive.”

Tyler added, “Smaller incisions, lower risk of hernia, and a lower risk of infection means getting out of the hospital sooner.

Up until now, if an Air Force surgeon wanted to perform a robotic surgery, he or she would have needed to go to  a private hospital to be trained on the system.

To address this problem, InDoRSE established a training facility on base for surgeons to earn their official robotic surgery credentials. InDoRSE’s focus has always been on training, graduate medical education, and research and development. For Lt. Col. (Dr.) Thomas Shaak, the 81st Medical Support Squadron’s director of InDoRSE, creating a program for robotic surgery falls in line with their mission.

“With this research robot, our residents will graduate with fully recognized robot credentials,” Shaak said. “Our surgeons should already be trained in surgeries, and with this credential, we’re giving them another tool in their toolkit to properly select good candidates for robotic procedures.”

Shaak said the manufacturers of the da Vinci Xi surgical systems, and the usual providers of robotic credentials, have agreed to a unique partnership where they will recognize the training coming from the InDoRSE site. The site also allows for surgeons from other locations to obtain their credentials in addition to those assigned to Keesler AFB.
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Family Residency Program Provides Military Healthcare


By Debbie Gregory.

The Military Family Care Residency Program brings together military physicians and allied medical personnel with their civilian counterparts to provide top-notch healthcare to their patients.

Each year, 42 residents go through the program, which lasts three years. Each class has 14 participants—eight military members and six civilians. To be accepted into the program, both military and civilian residents must graduate from medical school.

The program, which had been located at Scott Air Force Base, IL, is now located at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, IL. It is the only fully-integrated civilian-military family residency in the Air Force that combines a community-based and a military residency.

The concentration changes every month. Students are required to learn every specialty under Family Medicine in a short amount of time, making it an intensive learning program

Lt. Colonel Matthew Snyder, MFCRP military program director, said that the program is designed to offer students a “full scope” training method, meaning students are not specifically trained in family medicine.

“They are trained in everything,” said Snyder. “That way they can become the most valuable family medicine physicians the Air Force can produce.”

The program began in 1972 and was located at Scott Air Force Base. When the hospital on base closed down in 1996, the program moved to St. Elizabeth’s. Late next year, St. Elizabeth’s will be moving locations along with the residency clinic, but the residency program will remain the same.

The new location will allow more efficient patient care and will also be closer to Scott AFB, making it easier for most DOD beneficiaries to receive care, Snyder said.

“I have a great opportunity to not only shape future Air Force physicians but to also teach and have a direct impact on their education,” said Snyder.

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