THE MEDICAL FIELD

This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri February 28th 2018. If you would like to see the current articles as they are published, you may subscribe to The Belle Banner by calling 573-859-3328, or email tcnpub3@gmail.com, or mail to The Belle Banner, PO Box 711, Belle, MO 65013. Subscription rates are; Maries, Osage, and Gasconade County = $23.55 per year, elsewhere in Missouri = $26.77, outside Missouri = $27.00, and foreign countries = $40.00.
There is another Army about which I have not written, until now. It is like a separate Army within the Army. It is the largest professional component of the US Army. Over twenty percent of active duty soldiers are in that command/department. It has dozens of military jobs for which an individual can enlist, be trained and perform, then leave the Army and do the same thing in a civilian setting at a good salary. One of the greatest dangers in that command is becoming overweight and out of shape.
The US Army Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Nadja Y. West, is the head of the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) and also the Commander of the US Army Medical Command (MEDCOM). MEDCOM supervises through four Regional Health Commands, worldwide, 8 Army Medical Centers, 13 Army Community Hospitals (like the one at Fort Leonard Wood), 29 Army Health Clinics, 81 Primary Care Clinics, 8 Occupational Health Clinics, 99 Dental Clinics, 42 Veterinary Facilities, 33 Research and Development Laboratories, 5 Laboratory Support Activities, 10 Combat Support Hospitals, 16 Forward Support Surgical Teams, and six active Medical Brigades, plus other smaller units. All wear the same shoulder patch, all are part of MEDCOM.
MEDCOM says that on an average day, worldwide they will have 55,000 outpatient visits, fill 57,000 pharmacy prescriptions, do 85,000 lab procedures, give 9,400 shots, do 25,000 dental procedures, 13,000 radiology procedures, admit 253 patients to the hospital, and deliver 71 babies.
Medical Doctors, MD’s and DO’s, are in the Army Medical Corps, Nurses are in the Army Nurse Corps, Dentists are in the Dental Corps, Doctors of Veterinary Medicine are in the Veterinary Corps. The Medical Service Corps includes psychologists, social workers, optometrists, pharmacists, podiatrists, and audiologists. Officers in the Medical Service Corps also serve in many hospital administrative, logistical, and research positions. The Medical Specialist Corps has clinical dieticians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and physician’s assistants. Medical doctors are separately identified into one or more of 41 specialties from family practice to orthopedic surgery to neuro surgery.
There are 23 enlisted military occupational specialties (MOS’s) in the medical field; 68A Biomedical Equipment Specialist, 68B Orthopedic Specialist, 68C Practical Nursing Specialist, 68D Operating Room Specialist, 68E Dental Specialist, 68F Physical Therapy Specialist, 68G Patient Administration Specialist, 68H Optical Laboratory Specialist, 68J Medical Logistics Specialist, 68K Medical Laboratory Specialist, 68L Occupational Therapy Specialist, 68M Nutrition Care Specialist, 68N Cardiovascular Specialist, 68P Radiology Specialist, 68Q Pharmacy Specialist, 68R Veterinary Food Inspection Specialist, 68S Preventive Medicine Specialist, 68T Animal Care Specialist, 68U Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Specialist, 68V Respiratory Specialist, 68W Healthcare Specialist (Combat Medic), 68X Behavioral Health Specialist, and 68Y Eye Specialist. Plus 68Z is a Chief Medical NCO (Non-commissioned Officer) (sergeant). And outside the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) is the Special Forces Medical Sergeant, MOS 18D.
Most of those MOS’s are employed in hospitals or clinics in the Medical Command. Dental people are of course in Dental Clinics and the Animal care folks are in the post Vet Clinics. Every post has a vet clinic to care for pets. The Healthcare Specialist, the 68W (68 Whiskey) can be assigned to a hospital or to a combat unit. Every infantry rifle platoon has a medic attached when in the field. I never had a bad medic. Airborne infantry is light infantry, it rarely gets to ride. Our medics carried everything that the grunts carried plus a 50 pound medical bag, and they were always with us. So far, the Army has avoided sending female medics with infantry units. However, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars blurred the lines of where combat could be found, as with the case of Monica Brown.
The current comments from soldiers working in Army hospitals are; ”It’s like working in a civilian hospital but wearing a uniform.” Or one said; “It’s like being in the Air Force but wearing an Army uniform.” Hospital work is hospital work civilian or military. It is shift work with rotating shifts. Those sections rarely have organized PT (physical training). The individual soldier works out on his or her own or risks getting out of shape or overweight. Either condition draws attention and grief. Over the years medical people have worn their hair too long, their uniforms not as neat, and not acted as “military” as the rest of the Army, but always end up being tolerated and accepted because of what they do. They are different and they are special.
The biggest difference between a civilian and a military hospital is that it is military, the bosses have rank and more authority than a civilian boss, so they are normally more disciplined and tightly operated.
I’m going to start with the enlisted jobs then move on to how doctors and nurses are procured. I’m starting at the top with MOS 68A Biomedical Equipment Specialist. This is a great school and job in the Army that translates directly to a good civilian job, starting at around $30 an hour. I found one recent veteran of this MOS who started work immediately, in St Louis, at $70,000 a year. These people take care of all the medical equipment used by medical personnel, from mechanical and hydraulic to electronic and digital. They install medical equipment and perform preventive maintenance checks, including lubricating, adjusting and cleaning. They also troubleshoot and check equipment for any malfunctions or defects and submit reports on all equipment inspected. Most of the positions are in hospitals. Work in a hospital consists of conducting inspections and verifying that units are properly calibrated about 65 percent of the time, and spending the rest of the time on repair work-orders, troubleshooting, identifying broken components, replacing boards, etc. Hospitals are where 68A’s really get to do their job. In field units, medical logistics, or combat support hospitals 68A’s apparently do more “just army stuff” than their real job, and they complain that in Brigade Support Battalions they rarely get to do their job, although some say that promotions seem to come faster in the combat units.
The requirements to enlist for this job are first, be qualified for enlistment, have at least one year of high school algebra with a grade of C or better, have normal color vision, and score at least 107 in the EL (electronics) area of the ASVAB, which consists of these tests, General Science (GS), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), and Electronics Information (EI). It also requires a four year enlistment, because the school is almost a year long, and most leave the army after their initial enlistment, for a lucrative civilian job. Many have said that they meet so many people in the field, military and civilian contractors, during that four years, that they have a job waiting for them when they leave the service. The Army school is considered by many the best in the country. The person who is lucky enough to get this MOS will probably have to wait for a slot to come open. MOS 68A is not currently on the list for an enlistment bonus, although that list changes with the wind it is an indication of whether the Army needs that MOS or not. The AIT (Advanced Individual Training) for MOS 68A is 41 weeks long at Fort Sam Houston, Texas (San Antonio). That means, since it is longer than 21 weeks, the Army will move a soldier’s family to Fort Sam immediately after basic training. Discipline and soldier control wise it is very laid back. There are often specialists and sergeants, who have reenlisted for MOS 68A, or reclassified into it, attending the course. There is still PT (Physical Training) every weekday. Mentally it is tough for many. Several suggested a lot of study or even setting up study groups outside the classroom. The school consists of 12 courses of 17 days each. 1 and 2 are the hardest for a lot of people, but they are meant to weed people out. 1 is math about circuits, dimensional analysis and conversions. 2 is circuit theory and learning components. You have to know how a transistor works. The other courses are on specific items of equipment.
They leave AIT with enough college credit to finish an associates degree in biomed tech in about three classes. It is hospital work, but without dealing with patients, they work on equipment that keeps the patients alive. Also, there is often the opportunity to train with industry, when new equipment is introduced.

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