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AMEDD Captains Career Course changes helping students become better leaders

By David DeKunder | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | May 21, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

Changes in requirements in the Army Medicine Captains Career Course at the Army Medical Department Center & School, Health Readiness Center of Excellence at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston are better preparing students to lead in both ground combat operations and operations supporting civil authorities in emergencies.

The changes took effect in January with the first class of 169 students in this year’s Captains Career Course, or CCC, who graduated from the course March 8. The focus of the course is to provide captains with tactical, technical and leadership knowledge and skills they need to lead company-sized units and serve on battalion and brigade staffs.

Students in the AMEDD CCC undergo nine weeks of training that includes classroom and hands-on training about the Military Decision Making Process, Army Health Systems Support and Force Health Protection doctrine, unit training management, leadership skills and staff officer functions.

Maj. Steven Rairdon, an AMEDD CCC instructor and mid-grade learning continuum lead, said changes in the course requirements include an Individual Concept of Support brief in which students are required to brief a course instructor on a concept of medical support in support of Large Scale Ground Combat Operations conducted by students.

Students conduct the Individual Concept of Support briefs before a course instructors after they have learned about the Military Decision Making Process, a seven step process in developing the concept of medical support in support of Large Scale Ground Combat Operations.

The students, who are medical officers, develop a plan for medical support that includes principles of the Army Health Systems and Force Health Protection doctrine that they present to the course instructor during their briefing.

Course instructors evaluate the students conducting the briefings on several criteria, including their knowledge of Army and Joint Medical Functions, capabilities and limitations, as well as their presentation skills, communication skills and expertise of course material.

In previous CCCs, Rairdon said two students conducted the briefings, with course instructors evaluating both presenters. This year is the first time that the course briefings are being presented by one student.

By just having a single medical officer, or captain, conduct a briefing, Rairdon said course instructors are better able to evaluate a student’s knowledge of the Military Decision Making Process and the Army Health Systems and Force Health Protection doctrine.

“By doing it individually, small group leaders (instructors) can better assess a student’s individual level of learning and comprehension,” Rairdon said.

Rairdon said another change in course requirements is requiring students, for the first time since the 1990s, to participate in field training exercises conducted at JBSA-Camp Bullis. The exercises, known as the Defense Support to Civil Authorities, Staff Exercise, is based on a natural disaster scenario in which local or state authorities request the assistance of military assets or units.

He said adding more rigorous requirements to the AMEDD CCC will increase AMEDD Officers institutional knowledge that will better prepare them for operations in multi-domain environments including air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.

In May, the second class of students in this year’s CCC participated in field training exercises at JBSA-Camp Bullis that were based on a scenario in which a hurricane makes landfall in Houston. During those exercises, students took on the roles of members or leaders of a medical battalion or medical brigade in supporting civilian authorities responding to the aftermath of the hurricane scenario.

Capt. Vanessa Medina, AMEDD Medical Services Corps CCC operations officer, said the objective of the field training exercises was to get students into the mindset of how to respond to a hurricane, including training in the decision making process that focuses on meeting exercise objectives such as the employment of medical units.

Two AMEDD students, Capts. Kristen Borsella and Devon Pilarowski, were in the second class of students in this year’s CCC that participated in the field training exercises in May. The second class of students in this year’s CCC started March 13 and graduated May 15.

Borsella was the executive officer for the 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion in the exercise. She said she and the students utilized their medical knowledge and skills to respond to situations that came up during exercise.

“We used our skills to best place those medical assets and support the tasks that were coming up,” Borsella said. “We are using are medical planning, as well as our medical knowledge, to place the assets that can best help those casualties where there needed. We are definitely learning and communicating, and it’s been good so far.”

Pilarowski, 2nd Brigade behavioral health officer/social worker at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was the executive officer in charge of the 44th Medical Brigade during the exercise. She said taking on the role of an executive officer of a brigade was a good learning experience for her.

“A lot of us, especially in this room, are currently sitting in spots where we wouldn’t normally interact,” Pilarowski said. “I’m a social worker, so being an executive officer for a medical brigade wouldn’t be something I’m doing. We are learning jobs that we are not really used to doing. It’s been different.”