SAN ANTONIO (NNS) -- The first class to train under the newly revised hospital corpsman (HM) 'A' School curriculum graduated Oct. 13 at a ceremony at the Medical Education and Training Campus on board Joint Base San Antonio - Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
The class started July 5, training under curriculum developed by Navy Medicine Education, Training and Logistics Command (NMETLC) that includes more hands-on, Navy-specific medical training for students to keep in line with the Navy surgeon general's readiness priority.
"Today, class 190 is making history as the very first class to complete the new Hospital Corpsman Basic Program," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Michael Garcia, the master of ceremonies and one of the class's instructors assigned to Navy Medicine Training Support Center (NMTSC).
In the past 14 weeks, students learned basic life support, emergency medical care, nursing care, shipboard medical care, tactical combat casualty care and much more. Corpsmen also learned the history and heritage of the rate, which is the most decorated in the Navy.
"I didn't realize when I went through school, the significance of what it meant to be a corpsman," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Jacklyn Place, Class 190 advisor and guest speaker at the graduation. "I learned quickly on my own what it was. I have seen fellow corpsmen triaging during mass casualties and saving lives. I've seen a fellow corpsman working to save my own chief's life. He didn't make it. His photo is hanging on the 'Wall of Heroes' outside."
Place gave the class a challenge to be the best version of themselves when treating patients at their next duty station.
"After you take your corpsman oath today, you have to remember to earn your caduceus every single day," she said. "I challenge you to remember why you wanted to be a corpsman, and know that your patients always deserve compassion. They deserve the best version of you. You're all they have. Make sure that you are worthy to be called a corpsman."
After initiating the challenge for the class, Place also gave them a guarantee. She wrapped up her remarks with a personal story of helping a young child during her first deployment who had been hit by shrapnel. She said that was when she realized her purpose as a corpsman and why she was there.
"I guarantee that you will have these moments, and they will make it all worth it," she said. "I wish you hundreds of moments where you know you're here for a reason."
Guests attending the graduation included staff from NMETLC, NMTSC, METC, and the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED). Force Master Chief Hosea Smith, Hospital Corps director, was one of the guests and spoke with the students before the ceremony.
"I've been doing this for 30 years," said Smith. "Almost 29 years ago, I was sitting in your seats. So your opportunities are boundless. Take advantage of everything that's offered to you. Keep your eyes open. Listen. Ask questions."
With BUMED's oversight, NMETLC worked with NMTSC, METC and subject-matter experts from around the fleet to revise the curriculum and have followed the first class in the validation processes. The students in the new class said they've witnessed a great amount of effort and attention in their instruction.
"To see it blossom and be a part of it, it's great," said Hospitalman Kevin Daguio, one of the graduates. "It's a privilege, but it's an enormous responsibility, one that I'm not sure I'm ready for. But I'm ready to learn and to face the challenges of whatever comes."
Smith's advice to the graduating class was to be open to the possibilities ahead of them.
"Somebody asked me my first year in the Navy whether I wanted to make it a career," Smith said. "I was very uncertain what I wanted to do. But you know, in this organization, you can become anything that you want to be. The only limiting factor is yourself. Never limit yourself on anything that you want to do."
Thirty of the students will travel to Great Lakes, Illinois, where they begin another Navy first Oct. 16 - follow-on training under a new Navy Surgeon General (SG) initiative, the Hospital Corpsman (HM) Clinical Trauma Experience Proof of Concept course. They will spend 12 weeks studying and practicing in-patient/out-patient clinic and trauma care at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC) located near Naval Training Center (NTC) Great Lakes and at James H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, a level-one trauma center in Chicago, Illinois. The proof of concept course is another of several hospital corps training programs developed by NMETLC.
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