What physicians need to know about military medicine

By Aine Cryts

Approximately 14 million Americans have served in the military, and they're more likely than the general population to suffer from brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to Kaiser Health News.

While many veterans receive care at physician practices across the country, many of these medical offices aren't attuned to the health problems former service members face. Also, clinicians typically neglect to ask patients, including children, whether they have a family member in active military service, former Congressman Brian Baird, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, told KHN.

Thanks to Baird, that's going to change. Medical schools will now have to teach future doctors about military health issues. That's because he's worked hard to include questions about military medicine on the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam, which every medical student has to take before becoming a doctor.

Baird believes that including military health as part of physicians' continuing education requirements will also make a difference in the care of these patients. However, that work will require coordination with each state's medical board, according to Karen Sanders, M.D., who helps oversee academic training for the Veterans Administration.

"I've asked a lot of physicians about it, and many of them said, 'You know I've had courses in things I will never see in my practice. But there's a pretty darn good chance I'm going to see somebody who's been deployed,'" said Baird.

Efforts to include questions about military service in patient intake forms and in EHRs are also underway, KHN noted.

There are a variety of ways physicians can help veterans cope with health problems related to their service. A messaging app developed by the Army called mCare, for example, has helped injured military personnel and former soldiers transition back into civilian life, as reported previously in FierceMobileHealthcare.

Telemedicine has also proven to be successful in providing care to rural veterans with PTSD, reported FierceHealthIT.

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