Medical Licensing Exams to Include Questions on Military Medicine, Requiring Physicians to Know Their Veterans

Monday, November 16, 2015
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Just prior to Veteran's Day this year, an announcement was made by former U.S. Representative and licensed clinical psychologist, Brian Baird, and his colleague, Steven Haist.  Moving forward, examinations for medical students and new physicians seeking licensure will now include questions about military medicine issues.  Dr. Haist is a physician and associate vice president for test development at the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), which develops and runs the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).  Dr. Haist said the new questions will require medical students to demonstrate their knowledge of traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other health concerns that are commonplace among veterans.  

The USMLE is also mandated for graduates of foreign medical schools to become licensed in the United States.  It is administered through the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). 


Advocating for Our Veterans' Health Care Needs.
 


Baird played a significant role in implementing the change.  His own patients inspired him to spearhead the project to ensure that health care providers are asking the right questions and are able to attend to the unique needs of veterans and their family members, especially during times of deployment.  Baird believes that acquiring knowledge about a service member's and their family's military background can assist the health care professional in providing more effective health care for these individuals and eliminate unnecessary treatment and misdiagnosis.  

Baird was a part of a small group of medical professionals that gathered to make certain that future doctors are aware of military medicine issues to better assist former military members whose population has become quite significant.  Baird spoke with several medical organizations and learned of some already taking on the same task.  One such organization is the White House's "Joining Forces" initiative launched in 2011 by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.  Dr. Haist teamed up with Baird and spent nearly four years organizing the effort.  They consulted with specialists whose expertise in every branch of the military and with veterans enabled them to develop and write the examination questions.  

Military medicine questions will now be included in all three of the exam's progressive assessments that students take at various determined points in medical school and after the completion of the early stages of postgraduate training.  Dr. Karen Sanders, who helps oversee academic training for the VA, acquired funding for the project.  She says she's confident this change will in turn drive schools to offer courses in military medicine.  A 2012 survey by the Association of American Medical Colleges, found that only about half of the schools have such courses.  

To read the full story as reported by U.S.A. Today, click here


What Does Military Medicine Encompass?


Veterans can suffer from a diverse range of unique ailments.  PTSD is often the most prevalent ailment associated with former military members, especially those returning from deployment.  However, not all disabled servicemen suffer from PTSD.  There exists a whole range of additional illnesses from which veterans can be afflicted.  Some of these conditions include:

(a)    Musculoskeletal injuries and pain;

(b)    Chemical exposure to hazards such as defoliant Agent Orange in Vietnam or huge burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan that resulted in the release of toxic fumes;

(c)    Infectious diseases for which vaccinations are not currently available;

(d)    Noise and vibration exposure resulting in hearing loss, impairment and persistent tinnitus;

(e)    Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from blows or jolts to the head thereby disrupting normal brain functions; and

(f)    Urologic injuries often requiring complex surgery.

For more information on these common health problems faced by veterans, click here

For more information of PTSD and the physical ailments stemming from the mental health disorder, click here.


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Sources:


Rovner, Julie.  "It's on the Test: New Questions Require Doctors to Learn About Military Medicine."  Kaiser Health News: 10 Nov. 2015.  Web.  12 Nov. 2015.

Salamon, Maureen.  "After the Battle: 7 Health Problems Facing Veterans."  LiveScience: 11 Nov. 2010.  Web.  13 Nov. 2015.


About the Author:
George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.



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11/16/2015

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