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Practicing Medicine in the Army - Transcript

Capt. Ana Elizabeth Morgan: My name is Ana Elizabeth Morgan. I'm a captain in the United States Army, and I'm in the Medical Corps. I'm a resident in internal medicine.

Lt. Col. Paul T. Mayer: My name is Paul Mayer, and I'm an emergency medicine physician and a lieutenant colonel in the Army. I went to an all boys' Catholic military high school in Savannah, Ga., and from there I went to West Point United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. I was fortunate because West Point let me go straight to medical school; I went to Uniform Services' the University of Health Sciences.

Capt. Ana Elizabeth Morgan: I chose to go into medicine, and it's pretty costly so I pursued the military scholarship.

Lt. Col. Paul T. Mayer: If you get into a program that is expensive and if you're not of above-average means to pay off, to defer that expense, going into the Army makes total economic sense.

Capt. Ana Elizabeth Morgan: The Army had a guaranteed program, which basically, if you had certain criteria, they would notify you if you had the scholarship. Before I said, "Yes," I looked into it, and I realized that the Army had more training facilities, more money, more research. You do a lot more to try to solicit consults in the civilian world because that's the way a civilian doctor makes money, or you know, that's the basis for their income. That's not the kind of medicine that I want to practice because that, to me, is not fulfilling. I didn't go to business school, and I'm not good at it. I can just be what I want to be, which is a physician.

Lt. Col. Paul T. Mayer: I think the focus in military medicine is treating patients. We're not worried about billing; we're not worried about generating RVU (Relative Value Units) because of reimbursement. We're not worried about fighting with the insurance companies for reimbursement. We're not worried about the utility bill or "Oh, my X-ray machine's about to break. How am I going to be able to pay for a new one?" Every single day you focus on being a physician.

Capt. Ana Elizabeth Morgan: The Army is very cutting edge. We have more resources than most civilian institutions. The Army just has more medical training facilities.

Lt. Col. Paul T. Mayer: Our facilities are all new. Our facilities are all up to date, and I have to tell you right now I've worked in every aspect of medicine from county, to civilian county hospital, to rural-small hospitals, and I can tell you that military medicine is way better than a civilian equivalent.

Capt. Ana Elizabeth Morgan: I don't work very closely with the Brooke Army Medical Center burn unit, but I am very well aware that it is world-renowned. We've had patients recover beyond expectations in the burn center.

Lt. Col. Paul T. Mayer: We're very proud, in our residency programs in the Military, of consistently exceeding the standards. Emergency medicine, for instance, we're number one in the country in the in-service examinations — in the country, out of all residencies. We aggressively pursue exceeding the standards, where some of the civilian programs push very hard to meet the standards at minimum just so they can stay open.

Capt. Ana Elizabeth Morgan: In the civilian world, there's all this hierarchy, and you have your resident, and your chief resident and your attending, and often you'll never meet that incredible special attending because he's just so revered because you have to achieve a certain status before you interact with them.

Lt. Col. Paul T. Mayer: A lot of civilian programs, they think the residents teach the residents. There's not a lot of faculty involvement. There's not a lot of leadership. There's not a lot of mentorship. Most of the attendings aren't actively engaged in patient care. They let the residents do everything. In the Military, the residents are engaged. The people with the most experience and the most knowledge are engaged on a daily basis to ensure that the people that are there for training get the best training possible.

Capt. Ana Elizabeth Morgan: Most of my consultants spend extra time actually meeting with me and telling me what they thought about the consult and trying to make it an educational experience in the process.

Lt. Col. Paul T. Mayer: We have a phenomenal success rate. The guys that get out of the Army, they just excel in the civilian environment when they choose to get out. Big hitters in civilian medicine right now were former military guys. And we're a small piece of the pie. This big of the pie makes about this big of the leadership positions in civilian medicine, and there's a reason for that. It's because the system that we've created enables success. Guys go and charge that hill because they know if they're wounded, they've got the most advanced hospital system in the world to save their life.

Capt. Ana Elizabeth Morgan: Every day that I come to work, I feel like I make a difference in the Army. Each one of our patients here at Brooke Army Medical Center, whether Active Duty or retired, are incredibly appreciative of the care that we provide.

Lt. Col. Paul T. Mayer: If you want to develop a first-class level medical expertise while serving your country and feeling good about what you do every single day, and you know at the end of your career — be it four years or 30 years — that the training and the experiences that you have are unique and cannot be matched in another environment. The opportunity to expand your practice while feeling good about doing it is phenomenal in the Military.

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