The Key to Combat Readiness Is a Strong Military-Civilian Partnership

Matthew S. Sussman, Emily L. Ryon, Eva M. Urrechaga, Alessia C. Cioci, Tyler J. Herrington, Louis R. Pizano, George D. Garcia, Nicholas Namias, Paul J. Wetstein, Mark D. Buzzelli, Kirby R. Gross, Kenneth G. Proctor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: In peacetime, it is challenging for Army Forward Resuscitative Surgical Teams (FRST) to maintain combat readiness as trauma represents <0.5% of military hospital admissions and not all team members have daily clinical responsibilities. Military surgeon clinical experience has been described, but no data exist for other members of the FRST. We test the hypothesis that the clinical experience of non-physician FRST members varies between active duty (AD) and Army reservists (AR). Methods: Over a 3-year period, all FRSTs were surveyed at one civilian center. Results: Six hundred and thirteen FRST soldiers were provided surveys and 609 responded (99.3%), including 499 (81.9%) non-physicians and 110 (18.1%) physicians/physician assistants. The non-physician group included 69% male with an average age of 34 ± 11 years and consisted of 224 AR (45%) and 275 AD (55%). Rank ranged from Private to Colonel with officers accounting for 41%. For AD vs. AR, combat experience was similar: 50% vs. 52% had ≥1 combat deployment, 52% vs. 60% peri-deployment patient load was trauma-related, and 31% vs. 32% had ≥40 patient contacts during most recent deployment (all P >. 15). However, medical experience differed for AD and AR: 18% vs. 29% had >15 years of experience in practice and 4% vs. 17% spent >50% of their time treating critically injured patients (all P <. 001). These differences persisted across all specialties, including perioperative nurses, certified registered nurse anesthetists, operating room (OR) techs, critical-care nurses, emergency room (ER) nurses, licensed practical nurse (LPN), and combat medics. Conclusions: This is the first study of clinical practice patterns in AD vs. AR, non-physician members of Army FRSTs. In concordance with previous studies of military surgeons, FRST non-physicians seem to be lacking clinical experience as well. To maintain readiness and to provide optimal care for our injured warriors, the entire FRST, not just individuals, should embed within civilian centers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-576
Number of pages6
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - May 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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