WP med center graduation assisted by Defense Health Agency director

Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place, director, Defense Health Agency, speaks with graduates and attendees via video call in the 88th Medical Group auditorium at the Wright-Patterson Medical Center. (Contributed photo)

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Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place, director, Defense Health Agency, speaks with graduates and attendees via video call in the 88th Medical Group auditorium at the Wright-Patterson Medical Center. (Contributed photo)

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

Utilizing smaller groups, multiple locations and video-conferencing technology, ceremonies began in late May and will continue through June.

Reflecting on his recent graduation, Maj. Damien Morgan, Internal Medicine resident, said, “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 has imparted knowledge on me that has enriched my skills as a practicingphysician. I know that we will go forward from here with the abilities needed to make a difference in the lives of our patients.”

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Lt, Gen. Ronald Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, who was originally scheduled to patriciate 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.

“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,” said Place.

He also shared his fundamental four Cs 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. Place’s four Cs include: Competence: keep challenging conventional wisdom. Commitment: hone your leadership skills along with your clinical skills. Compassion: be a source of strength. Character: do what’s right.

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.”

OB/GYN resident, Capt. Danielle Holland, after the conclusion of her ceremony said, “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, Col. Brandon Horne, Surgical Operations Squadron commander, and Col. 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.”

There are 61 graduates this spring from the following Graduate Medical Education programs: CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists), Emergency Medicine, General Dentistry, General Surgery, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Orthopedic Physician Assistant, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Psychology and Social Work.

It is the second largest USAF GME training platform with 144 physician and 21 non-physician trainees in academic year 2019-20, and it transitions approximately 70 providers per year into the Air Force Medical Service.

Physician-training programs are sponsored by Wright State University. Military residents spend between 80 to 95% of their inpatient training time at affiliated local hospitals and comprise 50% of each graduating class. 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.

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,” Foutch 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.

The Wright-Patterson Medical Center GME program continues to provide a strong foundation to all who train here.

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