Case Volume and Readiness to Deploy: Clinical Opportunities for Active-Duty Surgeons Outside of Military Hospitals

Rowan R. Sheldon, Joseph D. Bozzay, Shaun R. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The Military Health System (MHS) uses a readiness program that identifies the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) necessary for surgeons to provide combat casualty care. Operative productivity is assigned an objective score based on case type and complexity and totaled to assess overall readiness. As of 2019, only 10.1% of surgeons met goal readiness threshold. At one tertiary military treatment facility (MTF), leadership has taken an aggressive approach toward increasing readiness by forming military training agreements (MTAs) and allowing Off Duty Employment (ODE). We sought to quantify the efficacy of this approach. STUDY DESIGN: Operative logs from 2021 were obtained from surgeons assigned to the MTF. Operations were assigned CPT codes and processed through the KSA calculator (Deloitte; London, UK). Each surgeon was then surveyed to identify time away from clinical duties for deployment or military training. RESULTS: Nine surgeons were present in 2021 and spent an average of 10.1 weeks (19.5%) abroad. Surgeons performed 2,348 operations (Average [Avg] 261 ± 95) including 1,575 (Avg 175; 67.1%) at the MTF, 606 (Avg 67.3; 25.8%) at MTAs, and 167 (Avg 18.6, 7.1%) during ODE. Adding MTA and ODE caseloads increased KSA scores by 56% (17,765 ± 7,889 vs 11,391 ± 8,355). Using the MHS threshold of 14,000, 3 of 9 (33.3%) surgeons met the readiness threshold from MTF productivity alone. Including all operations, 7 of 9 (77.8%) surgeons met threshold. CONCLUSIONS: Increased use of MTAs and ODE significantly augments average caseloads. These operations provide considerable benefit and result in surgeon readiness far exceeding the MHS average. Military leadership can maximize the chances of meeting readiness goals by encouraging clinical opportunities outside the MTF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-228
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes


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