Military Tropical Medicine Course Resumes International Field Missions
US Navy | 2023-11-08
Two years after its inaugural 1993 class, the Navy’s Military Tropical Medicine (MTM) program took on a tri-service mission, with a hallmark structure of 4 weeks of in-person didactic followed by 2 weeks in tropical infectious disease endemic locations. In 2020, the course momentarily halted international rotations due to travel restrictions and mandated a pivot to virtual education.
Naval Medical Leader and Professional Development Command (NMLPDC) has maintained a virtual MTM course due to its popularity and increase in access to critical education for military medical providers, while also re-establishing the in-person course and field missions during 2022.
In August 2023 and for the first time in three years, graduates of both the virtual and in-person MTM courses were able to execute field mission practicums. MTM re-established field rotations in Brazil, India, Peru, Honduras, Ghana, and Liberia, restoring the keystone MTM experience.
MTM students engaged with host nation military medical ships, hospitals, and healthcare professionals on the challenges of diagnosis, management, and treatment for their endemic tropical disease cases, which affect both military and civilian populations. The students collaborated in the treatment of infectious disease patients and traveled to high-risk populations to complete rigorous fieldwork that included identification, sampling, and surveillance.
Per MTM Course Director, CAPT Todd Gleeson, MC, USN, “Our team’s greatest achievement this year (2023) was re-establishing our field mission rotations. OCONUS rotations provide legitimate experience in austere tropical environments and help our students consolidate the knowledge they gain in the classroom and labs. The field missions truly produce officers of choice for global health engagement missions and deployments in these regions.”
About 500 students participated in the MTM course throughout 2023. MTM provides military medical providers with hands-on experience to understand the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases and other Force health threats which are only seen in tropical regions. The course is facilitated through over 100 hours of coursework paired with hands-on laboratory instruction. Student skills are further developed in microscopy through key faculty at Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and the National Institutes of Health, which enables graduates to diagnose gastrointestinal and bloodborne infections with limited tools on their own. During overseas rotations, students then see patients with infectious diseases of study and gain a first-hand understanding from our host nation partners on diagnosis and treatment.
To continue to build on the momentum of 2023, future MTM courses will include field site missions in Tanzania and Thailand, in addition to working to increase subscriptions of both the didactic and virtual courses. Interested providers can use this common access card-protected link to register for the next virtual course that convenes on December 31, 2023.
Article authored in collaboration with MTM Staff, CAPT Todd Gleeson, MC, USN and LCDR Tupur Husain, MSC, USN.
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