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DHA Director virtually assists WPMC graduation

Image of Lt. Gen. Place with other people's monitors around him on a Zoom call In a pre-recorded video, Army Lt. Gen. Place, director of the DHA, addresses the graduating residents from the Emergency Medicine program at Wright-Patterson Medical Center. (Photo by Kristen Van Wert, 88 MDG)

As the Wright-Patterson Medical Center medical residents prepared to graduate this spring, the traditional ceremony, normally held at the U.S. Air & Space Museum, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, had to be redesigned with current COVID-19 restrictions in place.

In lieu of one mass ceremony, WPMC used smaller groups, multiple locations and video-conferencing to conduct multiple ceremonies, which began in late May and will continue for the 61 graduates through June.

Reflecting on his recent graduation Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Damien Morgan, internal medicine resident, stated, “Despite the changes and limitations I felt that we were able to have a wonderful time and allow for a few moments of reprieve before heading off to our next adventures. I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with my fellow colleagues, for each and every one of them have imparted knowledge on me that has enriched my skills as a practicing physician. I know that we will go forward from here with the abilities needed to make a difference in the lives of our patients.”

Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, who was originally scheduled to participate in the graduation ceremony, instead shared his thoughts via a personal, pre-recorded video.

Recognizing the uniqueness of the ceremony, Place reflected on the talent of these 88th Medical Group physicians and their immediate necessity in an ever-changing medical environment.

Image of Army Lt. Gen. Place on a screen in a large auditorium

“The skills that you have honed are needed, not just in today’s world, but in the world we will need to manage in the coming decades,” proclaimed Place.  

He also shared his fundamental four C’s with the graduates as they move into the next phase of their careers, hoping to instill in them the responsibility that comes with military medicine.   

  1. Competence: keep challenging conventional wisdom. 
  2. Commitment: hone your leadership skills along with your clinical skills. 
  3. Compassion: be a source of strength.  
  4. Character: do what’s right. 

In closing, he reminded the graduates of their unique position of service and cautioned them to “be conscious of that call to service to your patients, to the military, and to your country.”

Obstetrics/gynecology resident, Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Danielle Holland, after the conclusion of her ceremony shared, “While this year’s military graduation was an unexpected way of celebrating our achievements, it was still quite an honor to hear General Place’s inspiring words.  I was also very encouraged to have our leadership, [Air Force] Colonel Brandon Horne, surgical operations squadron commander; and Colonel Bradley Lloyd, director of the Graduate Medical Education program, attend our graduation as well. I am grateful for the strong leaders and role models I had the privilege of working with at Wright-Patterson these past four years and look forward to joining them as an attending in July.” The current class of graduates spanned multiple disciplines from the GME programs including;: certified registered nurse anesthetists), emergency medicine, general dentistry, general surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics & gynecology, orthopedic physician assistant, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, and social work.   

Image of students meeting on Zoom

WPMC hosts the second largest GME training platform in the Air Force with 144 physician and 21 non-physician trainees for the 2019-2020 academic year; and additionally transitions approximately 70 providers per year into the Air Force Medical Service.

Physician training programs are sponsored by Wright State University in Ohio.  Military residents spend between 80-95% of their inpatient training time at affiliated local hospitals and comprise 50% of each graduating class. Local partner hospitals include the Dayton VA Medical Center, Miami Valley Hospital - Premier Health, Kettering Medical Center - Kettering Health Network and the Dayton Children’s Medical Center.

Air Force Col. Michael Foutch, commander of the 88th Medical Group, was able to attend several ceremonies in-person and via video-conferencing and applauded the graduates and leadership team on their efforts. “This is an unprecedented time in history, and you are joining a team that IS making a difference,” he said. “I’m energized by seeing you and encouraged knowing that you’re headed out into our Air Force to take care of our patients and our staff. As a Commander, and as a patient… I’d be honored to have any one of you take care of me and my family.”   

“In times of great change and disruption, foundations matter,” said Place.

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

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