The Economics of Air Force Medical Service Readiness
RAND PROJECT AIR FORCE ARLINGTON VA
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AFMS is facing a challenging environment. As key providers of medical support for operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, AFMS personnel operate three theater hospitals that provide health care to deployed forces from all four services. Much of this health care is provided to severely injured or wounded U.S. personnel, as well as to civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, they have continued the mission of stabilizing wounded and injured patients and providing expeditious aeromedical evacuation of personnel out of theater. Although AFMS has been successful in meeting these requirements, the operation of in theater hospitals is an added responsibility that was not envisioned when the Air Expeditionary Force concept for sizing and training for AFMS deployment capabilities was established in the late 1990s. Under this concept, AFMS was structured to support Air Force units deployed in theater and to provide aeromedical evacuation for all the services. The care of the severely injured and wounded depends on teams of critical-care specialists, including surgeons, operating room and intensive care nurses, and surgical technicians. To stay ready for wartime and maintain their surgical skills in peacetime, these AFMS teams must operate on patients with a wide variety of health needs. While replicating the severity of combat wounds and injuries in peacetime is difficult, regular surgery at least provides these teams with the surgical experience necessary to maintain their technical proficiency. Also known as currency opportunities, assignments that allow the teams to maintain surgical skills in a hospital and surgical environment are referred to as the inpatient workload in this report.
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