by Staff Sgt. David Dobrydney
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
3/4/2013 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Even in the midst of conflict, it is important to keep an eye toward the future.
To that end, the staff members at Craig Joint Theater Hospital here have
trained more than 40 Afghan doctors and nurses as part of the Afghan
Trauma Mentorship Program.
"The goal is to train Afghan health care providers to be able to operate
using the latest technology and methods so they are able to provide the
best health care possible for their countrymen," said Capt. Claudia
Niemiec, a 455th Medical Operations Squadron critical care nurse, who
was responsible for planning the most recent course under the program.
The classes usually have four students selected from medical facilities
run by the Afghan National Security Forces, which includes the army and
various police forces.
During the course of three weeks, the students are immersed in every
aspect of a modern hospital, from receiving a patient from an ambulance
to operating room techniques.
Besides having all the latest equipment, the program also benefits from years of battlefield medicine.
"From a treatment standpoint, there are a lot of lessons that have been
learned throughout the conflict here as far as trauma resuscitation,
damage control surgery," Niemiec said.
The students are often volunteers who have heard about the program from previous participants.
"Physicians we've had in the past have returned to their own hospitals
and told their colleagues this would be beneficial to attend," Niemiec
Identifying physicians interested in attending the course is done by Dr.
Abdullah Fahim, a medical and cultural adviser for the hospital. He
works with the Afghanistan National Security Forces' leaders to gather
information about the applicants.
"All these security sections have their own medical facilities and their
own physicians," Fahim said. "We have to train all of them so they will
be independent to take care of their own wounded warriors and trauma
Niemiec added that working with their Afghan counterparts presents a
great opportunity for the medical staff here. "We're doing something
that is going to have a lasting impact on the people here long after
we've left," she said.
At the graduation of the latest group to pass through the program, one doctor wished to express his appreciation.
"We've learned things we have not seen before that we will bring back to
our hospitals," said 1st Lt. (Dr.) Farooq Azam, an ear, nose and throat
surgeon with the Afghan National Police. "We enjoyed our time spent at
this great hospital and wish we could have stayed longer."