Medics returning from Iraq and Afghanistan wars redeployed as physician assistants

By Aine Cryts

Fifteen years in the Navy and an additional five years in the Army as a medic meant that Dave Manning was once the only healthcare provider for more than 100 people on a Navy ship and, later, served the acute needs of soldiers during two combat deployments in Iraq, Kaiser Health News reports.

"Nothing I've done really translates over [to civilian jobs] beyond basic EMT," Manning told KHN. "Trying to find something in the medical field without any credentials, without any licensure is tough. There's nothing out there."

Today, Manning is one of nine veterans enrolled in a new physician assistant training program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), where university staff have worked closely with leadership at the military base in Fort Bragg to translate the medical experience of Army personnel to jobs in the civilian world.

The location and timing of UNC's physician assistant program are perfect, according to the article. There are eight military bases--some of the country's largest--in North Carolina. And increasing numbers of veterans will be seeking jobs in the civilian world after they return from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, KHN said.

To supplement Manning's experience caring for the acute needs of sailors and soldiers, he and his classmates will receive education on diagnosing and managing chronic illness, Paul Chelminski, M.D., director of UNC's physician assistant program, told the news outlet.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is supporting the program with a $1.2 million donation. The insurer's CEO told KHN that the program will help provide care to the increasing number of patients who now have access to care because of the Affordable Care Act.

To learn more:
- read the article