SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Naval School of Health Sciences, San Diego, officially marked the end of more than 80 years of training during a disestablishment ceremony at the Naval Medical Center San Diego campus May 25.
NSHS San Diego will relocate its programs to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and become part of the Tri-service Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission initiative. The consolidation of Navy, Army and Air Force medical enlisted training is the largest in Department of Defense (DoD) history, making METC the world's largest military medical education and training institution.
"Today marks the end of an era, so we pause to recognize the rich legacy of your past, reflect on your accomplishments, and highlight your future legacy at METC in Fort Sam Houston, Texas," said Rear Adm. Eleanor Valentin, commander of Navy Medicine Support Command and the ceremony keynote speaker. "Each of you will leave a legacy in the form of the Hospital Corpsmen you have trained. Your legacy is and will be training those who ensure the medical readiness of the greatest naval force in the world."
Navy enlisted medical training in San Diego began when the West Coast Hospital Corps School moved from Naval Training Station San Francisco in 1928. The San Diego school was later closed from 1932-1935 and has resided in several locations since then. Advanced classes were taught at Hospital Corps School until the school's evolved mission resulted in the formal recognition of the Naval School of Health Sciences July 1, 1974.
Still, the NSHS disestablishment does not end all enlisted medical training at the NSHS San Diego facilities. Some Surface Warfare Medical Institute (SWIMI) and advanced dental technician classes will be taught in the NSHS building. The remainder of the spaces will be used by the Naval Medical Center San Diego.
Both staff and students said they will miss the history and tradition of advanced enlisted medical training in San Diego, but all agreed that the San Antonio consolidation is a good move.
"I'm excited that I'm graduating, but I'm also kind of sad," said Hospitalman John Betts, a Slidell, La., native who will graduate in June from the final NSHS San Diego Medical Lab Technician (MLT) class. "It's been a tradition that everybody comes to San Diego at the Naval School of Health Sciences for MLT training."
Lt. Cmdr. Ronald V. Bajet, MLT program department head, said the two greatest benefits of consolidation with METC are standardization and cost effectiveness.
"Having the enlisted personnel from the Army, Navy, and Air Force learn their technical specialties in the same classroom standardizes training," said Bajet, a Corpus Christi, Texas, native. "In an operational setting, there is the possibility of laboratory technicians, radiology technicians or surgical technicians working alongside each other. By consolidating the training, this leaves no question as to what each other knows technically."
"I watched the disestablishment ceremony of our sister school, NSHS in Portsmouth, Va., in May last year," said Capt. Debra Ryken, NSHS commanding officer said. "I heard Admiral Robinson say it's not a sad time because it's moving into the future. We set the foundation for the direction military medicine will go in the future. So, it's not sad. It's good."
For more news from Navy Medicine Support Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmsc/.