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Naval Medical Leader and Professional Development Command

18 May 2022

From Chief Petty Officer Emilio Velez

BETHESDA, Md. - NMLPDC located at NSA, Bethesda, Maryland is one of the Navy’s premiere platforms for medical training. Its mission is to maintain the operational health of the warfighter by developing highly trained medical leaders and personnel to maximize medical operational readiness.

The command evolved out of the Navy Hospital Corps Officer’s School in 1942, ultimately passing through several name changes through the years, with its most recent change from Navy Medicine Professional Development Center to its current name in 2020. NMLPDC serves as a subordinate command to Naval Medical Forces Support Command (NMFSC).

Aligning itself with the Surgeons General’s 4 P’s (People, Platforms, Performance and Power), the command trains thousands of medical department officers every year, through multiple continuing education and professional development courses.

Some of those courses are highlighted here, such as the Naval Postgraduate Dental School which trains approximately 25 dental officers annually. One of the essential training modules of NPDS is comprehensive dentistry which trains dentists to be primary care providers with the ability to treat patients with advanced options from the knowledge acquired through the training in the various sub-specialties in dentistry. This comprehensive training module provides Navy dentists with the skills essential for diagnosing and controlling diseases and providing comprehensive treatment plans which may have to occur without direct specialty support. Besides comprehensive dentistry training, NPDS also offers 36 continuing educational programs in dentistry in both traditional and virtual settings.
Another vital service training course through NMLPDC is Plans, Operations and Medical Intelligence (POMI). This is an important in-demand course, training approximately 100 students every year and offered through a comprehensive three-week training module essential to all officers and senior enlisted personnel assigned to a POMI billet.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of this training is a culmination of training drawn from all course modules into a capstone project that student groups must successfully work their way through. While the scenario presented may be fictitious, it is drawn from real world events to simulate scenarios POMI’s often encounter while working in the field. Junior officers from O1-O4 and senior enlisted, E-7-8 are given priority, as well as those from certain AOC’s (e.g., Health Care Administration, Physician's Assistant, Environmental Health, or Industrial Hygiene). Since this is a highly sought-after training, priority is given to those who already occupy an 1805 (POMI) billet, are endorsed by the POMI specialty leader, or are assigned to operational Marine Corps units, Navy fleet staffs or Special Forces units. SELRES students will need to be endorsed by the POMI Reserve Specialty Leader and approved through BUMED M10 Education and Training. There are 4 classes per year with a maximum enrollment of 30 students for each three-week training session.

Perhaps one of NMLPDC’s most unique courses is Military Tropical Medicine (MTM). This course has a didactic portion consisting of 4 weeks of in person or virtual lectures on various topics in field tropical medicine, such as bio-warfare agents, and food/water and vector-borne pathogens. These are the type of diseases that typically spread more frequently in resource poor settings often encountered by operational forces world-wide. Understanding how these diseases are transmitted (epidemiology) is the first step to developing more effective prevention, control and treatment measures to mitigate the spread (new drugs, insecticides, and vaccines). Perhaps one of the most important training elements of the MTM course is the two- week field component. Here students are afforded the opportunity to observe pathogen transmission and disease treatment in austere conditions. Some countries where this has occurred in the past include Peru, Ghana, Brazil, Thailand, Tanzania, India, Honduras, and Liberia. In 2020 and 2021, the field component was cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. However, students that graduated the didactic portion in those years, will be given the opportunity to come back and complete this portion of the course when travel restrictions are lifted. The importance of the field component cannot be overemphasized as it provides students a “real-world” perspective of challenges faced by operational forces with respect to infectious disease and opportunity to practice previously learned surveillance and mitigation techniques. In 2021 the MTM course was offered as a virtual and in-seat platform and trained a total 432 students that included 11 reservists, 82% from the National Guard.

A full listing of all the vital medical training platforms offered through NMLPDC can be found at https://www.med.navy.mil/Naval-Medical-Leader-and-Professional-Development-Command/.
Story written by CDR Michael D. Bay, MSC and LCDR Rodney Noah, MSC

 

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