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59th Medical Wing leaves large footprint on medical education

By Staff Sgt. William Blankenship | 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs | March 2, 2018

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —

The 59th Medical Wing, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, is the Air Force's premier healthcare, medical education and research, and readiness wing.

In conjunction with enhancing the patient experience within the Department of Defense’s largest outpatient medical center, the wing also houses the second largest Graduate Medical Education platform in the DOD.

Merged with the San Antonio Military Medical Center under the San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium, the 59th MDW GME charge provides a wide array of training programs ranging from general surgery to emergency medical services administration.

“We take that recently graduated physician, and train them in a specialty area,” said Air Force Col. (Dr.) Mark True, 59th MDW director of Medical Education. “Roughly 30 percent of our medical corps is considered to be in training. Considering those numbers, and what those medical professionals are expected to do when they leave our program, this is a huge, critical mission.”

At any given time SAUSHEC has roughly 620 residents enrolled in 37 graduate medical education programs, of which 60 percent are Airmen. There are an additional 14 programs for Allied Health members, such as pharmacists, physician assistants, phycologists, and others. SAUSHEC is the sole Air Force training center in over 20 specialties and in five specialties for the Army.

“I think our joint-service environment strengthens the medical education program,” said True, who also serves as the Associate Dean of Air Force Medical Education for SAUSHEC. “Exposure to joint service interaction better reflects what a deployed scenario could look like. Having multiple perspectives fosters a better learning environment and exposes the students to sister service cultures. The more diverse a team is, often times, the better the solutions are. I think that our program attracts high caliber individuals to begin with, but the type of learning environment here produces prepared physicians, who are also ready to deploy. Our average first-time board certification pass rate is 96 percent, compared to the national average of 87 percent.”

All programs are fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, who are responsible for accrediting graduate medical training programs for physicians in the United States.

For more information about the 59th MDW, including new 59th Medical Wing Texting Service, visit http://www.59mdw.af.mil/text/.