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David Grant USAF Medical Center hosts first ever evidence-based practice symposium

  • Published
  • By Lou Briscese
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Medical professionals from David Grant USAF Medical Center, NorthBay Healthcare, Air Force Medical Service and Ohio State University gathered for a weeklong conference on evidence-based practice.

The conference gathers medical professionals from all disciplines and teaches them how to collect information and data on the best proven ways to take care of patients.

DGMC, the Air Force’s largest inpatient hospital, hosted the conference for the first time. Plans are already in works to host another conference in late summer of this year. Col. Michael Higgins, 60th Medical Group commander understands the importance of the program and DGMC involvement.

"It’s a partnership sponsored by the Air Force Surgeon General and Ohio State University,” said Higgins. “We hosted it for the first time because we felt as the Air Force’s largest inpatient hospital, that’s what’s expected of us.”

Formally known as Center for Transdisciplinary Evidence-based Practice, the program now has a new name thanks to a $6.5 million endowment. The Helene Fuld Health Trust National Institute for Evidence-based Practice in Nursing and Healthcare is what the program is referred to now. The program is a fact-finding way to ensure Air Force trusted care philosophy is a single minded focus towards zero harm.

“It filters out expert consensus and actually has data and power behind it,” said Higgins. “Certain techniques, steps, practices, medications and sometimes even who (the medical professional is) is the best way to take care of a patient.”

It also provides patients and providers a sense of trust because the care being provided actually has data to support it.

“Evidence-based practice is a vital organ of high reliability,” said Higgins. “It ensures we can earn trust from our patients and our staff by delivering the highest known quality of proven practices.”

The evidence comes from a variety of academia.

“Medicine has a volume of medical literature that is exponentially growing,” said Higgins. “We academically learn how to ask questions about the vast animal and human studies, clinical trials, review articles and case reports.”

This is important because by 2019, the vast majority of care will be recommended to be evidence-based.

“A report by the Institute of Medicine discussed medical error compared to the aerospace and nuclear power industry,” said Higgins. “The report recommended that by 2019, 90 percent of decisions providers, nurses and other health care professionals make should be evidence-based.”

Facilitating the course was Dr. Lynn Gallagher-Ford, senior director of Helene Fuld Health Trust National institute for Evidence-based Practice in Nursing and Healthcare at Ohio State University. Involved with the program since its inception, Gallagher-Ford is thankful for the Air Force’s involvement.

“We started CTEP in 2011,” said Gallagher-Ford. “During the initial stages of the program, we held these courses in Columbus Ohio. Then in 2014, an opportunity to work with the Air Force changed everything.”

What started out with a few courses in Columbus evolved to bringing the courses to different health care facilities. The immersion course was held at Wright-Patterson Medical Center, Ohio, and established the partnership between the Air Force and Ohio State.

“This was a time during sequestration, so the Air Force had educational money, but no travel money,” said Gallagher-Ford. “So we took the program to Wright-Patterson. It was the first time we took the program on the road.”

The benefits of bringing the program on the road were immediately felt.

“It’s much more cost-effective if we come to them rather (than) they come to us,” said Gallagher-Ford. “Besides the cost, you get greater participation because you can have 30 students attending instead of sending one or two here and there.”

Since the initial immersion, the program has grown expeditiously.

“The first year we did about two or three of these on the road,” said Gallagher-Ford. “Now we’re up to over 20 courses a year on the road while still providing three courses a year in Columbus.”

What helps make the partnership so successful is the involvement and support provided by senior Air Force medical leadership. One of those leaders is Maj. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, deputy surgeon general, chief nurse corps.

“Major General Gen. Hogg is a huge supporter of the evidence-based program; she’s been through the immersion,” said Gallagher-Ford. “She’s been on board since day one. Her leadership has been instrumental during this partnership.”

Hogg agrees that the partnership is not only vital for the Air Force but beneficial for Ohio State as well.

“We learn from each other,” said Hogg. “There are advances we've made in the military that we've been able to share with our civilian partners, and vice versa,” said Hogg. “We've chosen to go straight to the source to teach our nurses.”

Hogg also believes that evidence-based practice will change the way the Air Force provides health care in the future.

“Providing safe, quality health care is contingent upon evidence-based practice,” said Hogg. “It's about taking the latest research and putting it into practice at the bedside, chair-side and plane-side.”  

The programs are set up to be challenging. Students have to research a lot of educational material and present their findings.

“This program is like a graduate level evidence-based program course in a week,” said Gallagher-Ford. “It’s very intense (and has) a lot of content. We teach it, they do it. They all work on an individual project and by the end of the week, they all present them to the class.”

As for the attendees, Staff Sgt. Michael Lloyd, 60th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, NCO in charge of hyperbaric medicine, believes there were benefits from attending the course.

“It was hard work, very labor intensive, but a great educational learning experience,” said Lloyd. “All Air Force Specialty Codes will benefit greatly from utilizing evidence-based practices.”

The end results are better health care for patients and more effective and efficient methods for health care providers.

“What’s beginning to happen is these programs are now becoming centralized best practices,” said Gallagher-Ford. “If we’re fixing problems at 10 places, potentially we will be fixing problems at 100 places.”



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