More than 200 military doctors and nurses are permitted to graduate early from the Defense Department’s premiere medical school to assist the U.S. military’s effort against the ongoing pandemic.
The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), which is based in Bethesda, Maryland, announced Thursday that it will award degrees to its fourth-year medical school students and graduate-level nurses on April 1, six weeks ahead of their normal graduation date.
The students, who are all active duty uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Public Health Service, will have to meet all graduating requirements before receiving their degrees and being reassigned by their respective services. The officers include physicians, family, mental health, and women’s health nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and certified registered nurse anesthetists.
USU president Richard Thomas said the decision was made when President Donald Trump declared a national emergency earlier this month.
“Our curriculum has a specific focus on threats like emerging infectious diseases and disasters that our military and Public Health Service forces are likely to encounter in the course of their careers,” Thomas said. “This instruction is based on real-life lessons learned, is woven throughout the curriculum and incorporated into our medical field exercises.”
Dubbed “West Point for doctors,” the USU is the only medical school in the United States that is entirely funded by the federal government. It educates, trains and prepares uniformed services health professionals, officers, and leaders to directly support the Military Health System.
“Our students are uniquely prepared to meet and address the readiness needs of the Department of Defense and our Nation the moment they step out of our doors,” said Thomas. “This is exactly what they were educated and trained to do. The Surgeon Generals of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service will receive a competent cadre of healthcare professionals who can augment current resources available to them.”
Trump said on Thursday that the U.S. Naval Ship (USNS) “Comfort,” a floating Navy hospital, is expected to arrive in New York next Monday. Her sister ship, the USNS “Mercy,” is being deployed to the West Coast.
“I think I’m going to go out and I’ll kiss it goodbye,” Trump said during a press briefing from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, adding that he will be on hand at the Naval base in Norfolk, Virginia to see the USNS Comfort off on Saturday.