The Surface Warfare Medical Institute - SWMI
Combat Medical Training
Situated in San Diego the eighth-largest US City - an area known as the birthplace of California and most recently as a healthcare and biotechnology development center - is a facility designed to provide advanced training to a select group of already highly skilled U.S. Navy, allied and joint personnel.
"SWMI trains officer and enlisted medical personnel to ensure the success of Navy Medicine throughout the fleet, so operational commands meet their mission and our Navy is ready when the nation calls," said Surface Warfare Medical Institute Officer-in-Charge Cmdr. Jeremy Hawker.
Initially created in April 1998 as a detachment of what was then the Naval Operational Medical Institute (NOMI), SWMI was formed to create an organization in which to consolidate training and consultation for medical department officers assigned to surface operational medicine billets.
It wasn't until nine years later that SWMI incorporated the Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) school under its aegis, providing advanced enlisted training to Corpsmen who serve as the singular primary care provider aboard surface ships throughout the Navy.
Three years later in 2010, Navy Phase 2, the Interservice Physician Assistant Program, the Advanced Dental Assistant Program and the Navy Drug and Alcohol Counselor School were transferred from the Naval School of Health Sciences (NSHS) San Diego to SWMI as part of a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) initiative, and in June 2011 the NSHS decommissioned, with SWMI becoming the singular point of advanced operational platform medical training for Navy medical professionals.
Today, SWMI provides global medical support to the fleet and fleet Marine forces through consultation, operational readiness training, reference publications, research direction and exercise planning and is recognized as a center of excellence in providing well trained and highly effective medical assets for fleet and fleet Marine forces deploying in support of national security, sea power and joint exercises.
SWMI, primarily known as the schoolhouse of the IDC, offers multiple courses to health care professionals providing for the service members dependent on their services, courses ranging from the year-long Surface Force Independent Duty Corpsman class to the one day humanitarian civic assistance symposium. Doctors, dentists, nurses and medical service corps officers attend other courses preparing them for department head tours of duty or tours as a Commander, Amphibious Task Force (CATF) Surgeon.
According to Hawker, the facility's recent upgrades - from increasing class size to several technology-based training improvements - were singularly designed to provide a learning environment conducive to the sorts of emergent situations students might face after assignment to the Fleet, either at sea or on the ground.
"In February we completed a $9.9 million renovation, which took about 18 months to complete," he said. "This renovation allowed us to expand our classroom size by 25 percent, which allows us to now seat up to 32 students in every class. We also expanded our simulation center by 220-square feet, and brought our Advanced Dental School over [from another location] so that we can use that facility to train our IDCs. This allows our students during the dental portion of their curriculum to get that hands-on experience through the dentist teaching the course, and it actually places them using equipment they will actually use - on whatever platform in which they might eventually work."
According to Hawker, SWMI sees more than 1,300 students pass through the facility's nine courses annually, a testament to the value Navy Medicine places on training its medical professionals for duty in often austere environments.
"The last phase of renovation concluded with the two original simulation labs being expanded by 100 percent, doubling student training space to include two new Virtual Reality (VR) training spaces," he said. "Each VR training space was outfitted with one 20-foot curved projection screen, audio support and smoke machines controlled by an adjacent control room. These new state of the art VR training spaces surround students/participants with imagery and sound similar to any operation setting but in a safe environment."
Hawker also said SWMI's most recent renovation included outfitting the IDC course, the Advanced Dental Assistant Program (ADAP) course and the Navy Drug and Alcohol Counselor School (NDACS) with more than $1.5 million in materials, supplies and services. He said ADAP converted its curriculum to new software, allowing training material to be developed with a task-based methodology in a modern integrated learning environment. The program revalidated the existing ADAP curriculum and identified new training requirements through hosting a Human Performance Requirements Review, ensuring alignment of the curriculum with fleet operational procedures and requirements.
The course also underwent a review prior to a scheduled American Council on Education Review, which later resulted in the ADAP curriculum being recommended for 17 semester hours of baccalaureate-level university credit. ADAP also continued to align with the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), which resulted in the first ADAP student to achieve Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) status from DANB prior to graduation.
"Advanced certification and accreditation for our Dental Assistance students validates the high standards this program sets for its graduates and demonstrates the caliber of dental care our Sailors receive in the fleet," Hawker said.
SWMI has, for more than a decade, continued the emphasis on medical education and training for which the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery has become known, epitomizing the capabilities of the organization's corpsmen and other medical professionals' abilities to do what Navy Medicine does anywhere and at any time - save lives.
SWMI reports to the Navy Medicine Operational Training Center (NMOTC), the recognized global leader in operational medical and aviation survival training. NMOTC is a component of Navy Medicine Education and Training Command (NMETC), which manages Navy Medicine's formal enlisted and officer education and training programs, medical operational training for medical and medical support personnel deploying worldwide, and training that prepares aviators and flight crews to survive in land and water mishaps.
SWMI, NMOTC and NMETC are part of the Navy Medicine team, a global health care network of Navy medical professionals around the world who provide high-quality health care to eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ships, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.