JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
San Antonio area Navy Medicine commands hosted 26 middle and high school guidance counselors, and high school chemistry and health professions educators June 27 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston as part of a summer externship focused on high school student career preparation and exploration.
Navy Medicine Education, Training and Logistics Command, known as NMETLC, and Navy Medicine Training Support Center, or NMTSC, hosted a Navy overview brief and tour of Hospital Corps “A” and select “C” schools for 16 middle and high school guidance counselors.
Ten chemistry and health professions educators were at the Naval Medical Research Unit-San Antonio, or NAMRU-SA, located on the Brooke Army Medical Center campus at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.
The afternoon briefings and tour at the Medical Education and Training Campus, or METC, were structured to give educators and counselors an opportunity to learn what it takes to “make a Hospital Corpsman,” said Gail Hathaway, NMETLC assistant chief of staff and the Navy’s event coordinator. NAMRU-SA provided the 10 educators a laboratory tour and “meet the scientists” career path discussion. Hathaway said both groups were excited and very impressed with what they saw and learned.
“I was trying to say goodbye to the teachers and counselors after it was over,” Hathaway said. “I could hardly get a word in. They were just abuzz talking about what they had experienced at METC and NAMRU-SA.”
The visit was part of the Alamo STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Workforce Coalition, or ASWC program that invited educators from the 13-county workforce region to participate in the unprecedented, summer externship opportunity for science teachers and high school counselors.
“The military stop was our last stop in the program,” said guidance counselor Jorge Garcia. “We’re the counseling portion, but there is also a portion of science and math teachers who are, in this process, learning to structure their math and science lessons in a way that helps prepare the students for these various careers.”
A Navy Recruiting District-San Antonio, or NRD-SA, medical officer recruiter, accompanied by several enlisted recruiters and staff, provided the guidance counselors a briefing on the Navy recruiting process, the first step to making a Hospital Corpsman. The NRD-SA team also answered questions and shared their perspectives on the Navy, Navy Medicine and a variety of paths leading to a Navy commission or enlisted service.
“It is so important that we are communicating the prerequisites to you, the guidance counselors, so that you can communicate that to your students,” said Burrell Palmer, NRD-SA public affairs officer.
Parmer explained how the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test score determines eligibility for Navy service, emphasizing STEM classes best prepare students for the highest scores, which leads to the most sought-after programs.
Recruiters then discussed the second step of making a Hospital Corpsman-Navy boot camp. Teachers and counselors nodded with a smile, while others chuckled during the video that tracked recruits from arrival to graduation.
The final step to making a Corpsman, Hospital Corps School, began with an overview of the METC presented by Lisa Braun, METC public affairs officer. The tri-service METC is where all Navy, Army and Air Force hospital corpsmen and enlisted medics are trained. NMTSC is the Navy’s command responsible for HM instructors and students when they are not in class.
From there, it was off to the classrooms where the visitors watched students train on the same equipment they will use at Navy Medicine treatment facilities, and they visited several medical simulation rooms.
Following the tour, the guests attended a Hospital Corps “A” School graduation ceremony, followed by a panel discussion with five HM instructors who answered questions, offering different perspectives of the Navy and Navy Medicine.
Meanwhile, the 10 educators were at NAMRU-SA, where they were briefed about the unit’s science mission and research, followed by a tour of the laboratory facilities to observe firsthand how science is used to develop novel technologies, therapies and treatment modalities to support warfighter readiness and survival.
The educators then participated in a discussion with a diverse group of NAMRU-SA scientists that focused on the scientists’ varying career paths. The scientists described their individual preparation and experiences along the research career path that brought them to Navy Medicine.
Capt. Thomas C. Herzig, NAMRU-SA commanding officer and research physiologist, explained the high demand for employees in the STEM career fields and discussed some of the opportunities in Navy Medicine.
“Students with a passion for STEM could discover a career path in Navy Medicine through military or military civilian service,” Herzig said. “Either military or civilian service can offer them the opportunity to do what they love, make a contribution, and have a work-life balance.”
In the end, many of the high school faculty left with a different perspective of the Navy and military service.
“Knowing that all of these opportunities are available to the students really changed my outlook on the military,” a guidance counselor said. “From education to experience and everything else, I’m just super overwhelmed with all of the information we received. I would always tell my kids ‘stay away from the military’ because of everything I see going on today, but now I see the military side on a different level. It was truly a wonderful, eye-opening experience.”