Formalization of a Specialty-Specific Military Unique Curriculum: A Joint United States Army and United States Air Force Infectious Disease Fellowship Program

Ana Elizabeth Markelz, Alice Barsoumian, Heather Yun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


There are many unique aspects to the practice of military Infectious Diseases (ID). San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Consortium Infectious Disease (ID) Fellowship is a combined Army and Air Force active duty program. Program leadership thought ID military unique curriculum (MUC) was well integrated into the program. We sought to verify this assumption to guide the decision to formalize the ID MUC. This study describes our strategy for the refinement and implementation of ID specific MUC, assesses the fellow and faculty response to these changes, and provides an example for other programs to follow. Methods: We identified important ID areas through lessons learned from personal military experience, data from the ID Army Knowledge Online e-mail consult service, input from military ID physicians, and the Army and Air Force ID consultants to the Surgeons General. The consultants provided feedback on perceived gaps, appropriateness, and strategy. Due to restrictions in available curricular time, we devised a three-pronged strategy for revision: adapt current curricular practices to include MUC content, develop new learning activities targeted at the key content area, and sustain existing, effective MUC experiences. Learners were assessed by multiple choice question correct answer rate, performance during the simulation exercise, and burn rotation evaluation. Data on correct answer rate were analyzed according to level of training by using Mann-Whitney U test. Program assessment was conducted through anonymous feedback at midyear and end of year program evaluations. Results: Twelve military unique ID content areas were identified. Diseases of pandemic potential and blood borne pathogen management were added after consultant input. Five experiences were adapted to include military content: core and noon conference series, simulation exercises, multiple choice quizzes, and infection control essay questions. A burn intensive care unit (ICU) rotation, Transport Isolation System exercise, and tour of trainee health facilities were the new learning activities introduced. The formal tropical medicine course, infection prevention in the deployed environment course, research opportunities and participation in trainee health outbreak investigations were sustained activities. Ten fellows participated in the military-unique spaced-education multiple-choice question series. Twenty-seven questions were attempted 814 times. 50.37% of questions were answered correctly the first time, increasing to 100% correct by the end of the activity. No difference was seen in the initial correct answer rate between the four senior fellows (median 55% [IQR 49.75, 63.25]) and the six first-year fellows (median 44% [IQR 39.25, 53]) (p = 0.114). Six fellows participated in the simulated deployment scenario. No failure of material synthesis was noted during the simulation exercise and all of the fellows satisfied the stated objectives. One fellow successfully completed the piloted burn ICU rotation. Fellows and faculty reported high satisfaction with the new curriculum. Conclusions: Military GME programs are required by congress to address the unique aspects of military medicine. Senior fellow knowledge using the spaced interval multiple-choice quizzes did not differ from junior fellow rate, supporting our concern that the ID MUC needed to be enhanced. Enhancement of the MUC experience can be accomplished with minimal increases to curricular and faculty time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-514
Number of pages6
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Infectious Diseases (ID)
  • graduate medical education (GME)
  • military unique curriculum (MUC)
  • operational medicine


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