Training Physicians for Combat Casualty Care on the Modern Battlefield

Vance Y. Sohn*, Lloyd A. Runser, Robert A. Puntel, James A. Sebesta, Alec C. Beekley, Jennifer L. Theis, Nancy L. Merrill, Bernard J. Roth, Robert M. Rush

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Introduction: Trauma training among nonsurgical physicians in the military is highly variable in amount and quality. However, all deployed military physicians, regardless of specialty, are expected to provide combat casualty care. The goal was to assess the effectiveness of an intense modular trauma refresher course for nonsurgical physicians deploying to a combat zone. Methods: All graduating nonsurgical residents participated in this 2.5-day course, consisting of 4 modules: (1) didactic session; (2) simulation with interactive human surgical simulators; (3) case presentations and triage scenarios from Iraq/Afghanistan with associated skill stations; and (4) live tissue surgical procedure laboratory. Competency tests, surveys, and after action comments were reviewed and compared before and after course completion. Results: Between May 2005 and April 2007, 60 physicians participated in the course. By specialties, there were 32 internists, 16 pediatricians, 7 general practitioners, 4 obstetricians/gynecologists, and 1 "other" nonsurgical physician represented. Precourse and postcourse tests were administered to 31 of 60 participants. The mean test scores improved from 76% to 96% upon completion of the course (p < 0.01). Additionally, self-perceived confidence levels in handling battlefield casualties from questionnaires based on Likert scale responses (1 = not confident, 5 = confident) improved from an average of 2.3 before the course to 3.9 upon completion of the course (p < 0.01). Conclusion: All military physicians must be prepared to manage combat casualties. This hybrid training model may be an effective method to prepare nonsurgeons to deal with battle injuries. This course significantly improved the knowledge and confidence among primary care physicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-203
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • animal model
  • combat care
  • education
  • Medical Knowledge
  • Patient Care
  • Practice Based Learning and Improvement
  • simulation
  • training
  • trauma


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