Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Military medical training continues during COVID-19

Students and instructors in the METC Respiratory Therapist program practice safe distancing and wear face coverings while training with mechanical ventilators. (Photo by Oscar Lopez) Students and instructors in the METC Respiratory Therapist program practice safe distancing and wear face coverings while training with mechanical ventilators. (Photo by Oscar Lopez)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness

FORT SAM HOUSTON – While military and civilian health care workers around the globe do their part in the fight against COVID-19, the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) is preparing the future enlisted medical force to provide critical support to these front-line providers.

Located on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, METC’s mission - to train the world's finest medics, corpsmen and technicians - is vital to force readiness and the nation. The tri-service schoolhouse facilitates training for nearly 50 allied health career fields for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

As students graduate many will augment active duty, guard and reserve component military medical teams in the COVID-19 response effort. Whether heading to new assignments around the world or returning home to support their local communities, these new graduates will be ready.

Students and instructors in the METC Respiratory Therapist program practice safe distancing and wear face coverings while training with mechanical ventilators. (Photo by Oscar Lopez)
Students and instructors in the METC Respiratory Therapist program practice safe distancing and wear face coverings while training with mechanical ventilators. (Photo by Oscar Lopez)

Establishing precautions to safeguard the health and safety of METC students and staff in the training environment is paramount to the mission.

“As we support the METC mission, we are concurrently strengthening the service components in their mission to ensure METC trainees safely meet the challenges that will be asked of them as military allied health professionals,” stated Navy Capt. Thomas Herzig, METC commandant.  

To mitigate potential risk, METC, by working closely with the Army, Navy, and Air Force, sought opportunities to meet the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines, whether it be by spacing students 6 feet apart in the classroom and labs, transitioning to distance learning, or other mitigating strategies.

METC’s Respiratory Therapist (RT) program has mitigated risk by successfully transitioning to online learning in conjunction with other measures.  

“RT students are distance learning by utilizing Joint Knowledge Online to deliver lectures and testing,” stated Oscar Lopez, the program’s director of clinical education.

Lopez explained that when practical exercises are scheduled, the class is divided into two or three smaller groups and each group is assigned a different time slot for hands-on practice. Students and instructors are spread out among the various lab rooms in order to maintain appropriate distancing while wearing face coverings to conduct the practical exercise.

Because RT students are prior enlisted and therefore more senior, they tend to live off post and can engage in distance learning from their residence.

However, some programs are too large for the infrastructure to support online learning. To work around that issue, some of the larger programs, like the Department of Combat Medic Training, have turned to implementing split training shifts. Half of the students conduct training from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the second half trains from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.

By split training there are fewer students sharing classroom and lab space, allowing them to maintain at least 6 feet of separation while also wearing face coverings for further protection.

Other steps have also been taken to protect students and staff members. “To promote social distancing and assist with minimizing contact within common areas, breakrooms within the medical instructional facilities have been closed until further notice,” stated Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Joshua Barr, METC senior enlisted adviser. “We also expanded some “no cover, no salute” areas in the outdoor courtyards to provide students more area to spread out.”

Barr said all formal graduation ceremonies have been suspended as well.

Transitioning an entire course from classroom to online during a short span of time, as well as the hands-on aspect of the curriculum, can make social distancing in any form a complicated task but Herzig had no doubt that METC could do it.

“The dedication and professionalism of our uniformed, civilian, and contractor personnel during this time is truly inspiring,” he declared. “It may not be ‘business as usual’, but they have all demonstrated these last weeks that we can adapt and still achieve success during this crisis.”

You also may be interested in...

DHA Form 207: COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Immunization Document, v13

Form/Template
3/25/2021

The purpose of this form is to determine if the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered to the patient. (v13, August 2021)

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

VENDOR UNSOLICITED PROPOSAL IN SUPPORT OF COVID-19

Form/Template
5/21/2020

Unsolicited Proposal Information Supporting COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Component Acquisition Executive | Coronavirus

Patient Global Impression Change Scale

Form/Template
5/1/2015

Form filled out by patients to rate their changes in activity, symptoms, emotions and quality of life.

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Health Readiness | Physical Disability | Traumatic Brain Injury

Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory Form

Form/Template
4/30/2015

Form used by providers to question patients about their symptoms

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Physical Disability | Traumatic Brain Injury | Health Readiness

Military Acute Concussion Evaluation 2012

Form/Template
4/30/2015

Use this form to screen for concussions

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Physical Disability | Traumatic Brain Injury | Health Readiness

Neuroimaging following TBI in non deployed setting

Form/Template
7/8/2013

The guidance contained in this CR represents a review of currently published literature and expert contributions obtained by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) in collaboration with clinical subject matter experts representing the Services, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), academic, research and civilian sectors.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Conditions and Treatments | Physical Disability | Traumatic Brain Injury

DCoE Concussion Management Algorithm Cards

Form/Template
10/8/2012

Combat Medic/Corpsman Algorithm Card to diagnose a concussion in a deployed setting

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Physical Disability | Traumatic Brain Injury | Health Readiness
Showing results 1 - 7 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.