NEWS | August 14, 2020

UC Davis Health partnership with Air Force: valuable training and better care

(SACRAMENTO)

It is a frightening reality: UC Davis Medical Center’s emergency department sees some trauma and injuries as severe as if they happened on a battlefield.

UC Davis emergency doctor and Air Force captain Andrew Branting completed an active duty residency at the UC Davis Medical Center.  UC Davis emergency doctor and Air Force captain Andrew Branting completed an active duty residency at the UC Davis Medical Center.

That reality, as terrible as it is, shows both the expertise of the medical team at the Sacramento region’s only Level 1 trauma center and the value of a unique training partnership between UC Davis Health and the David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.

“We have the opportunity to care for a diverse, high acuity patient population that we might not otherwise be able to serve,” said Andrew Branting, a UC Davis emergency physician and an Air Force captain. “It’s not just the severity of illness and injury we see in the ED, but also the robust system UC Davis Health has built that provides patients the highest quality care as they recover.”

The partnership began in 1995 with an Air Force residency rotation in trauma surgery at the medical center, and the programs have been steadily expanding. In 2005, the entire residency program of David Grant merged with the UC Davis Medical Center.

In 2017, Branting was among the first Air Force residents to join an active duty emergency medicine residency program at the medical center. That program is now directed by Air Force Lt. Cols. Rory Stuart and Roderick Fontenette. Both are full time UC Davis Health emergency physicians when they are not deployed.

“The value of their daily presence as faculty cannot be understated,” Branting said. “Lt. Col. Fontenette won the residency teaching award in his first year. Lt. Col. Stuart is an exceptional role model of leadership and calm under pressure.”

Branting said both men also bring their expertise in providing emergency care in unusual and sometimes challenging environments.

“Both can speak to what it is like to care for patients when you don’t have all of UC Davis’ specialists or our incredible surgery colleagues by your side.” Branting said.

Stuart recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan, where he helped plan the response to COVID-19 for U.S. and NATO forces throughout the country and was awarded the Bronze Star for his work. He said the partnership has worked well in both directions.

“The Air Force wanted to integrate into the incredible health facility and emergency department at UC Davis Health,” Stuart said. “The partnership gives our residents a chance to train and maintain trauma skills and to work with outstanding physicians so they are prepared when they get to a place like Afghanistan.”

In turn, Stuart and other military doctors often bring back to UC Davis Health the training and skills they developed dealing with combat injuries and managing situations with multiple trauma patients. Their experiences help enhance both care for civilians and training at the medical center.

Stuart said the medical training system at David Grant fully integrates rotations, residencies and other training at the UC Davis Medical Center. The Air Force has staff, fulltime faculty and residents embedded in the medical center in specialties ranging from internal medicine to vascular surgery to a cardio-thoracic intensive care rotation for nurses.

“You’d be hard pressed to tell who’s who,” he said. “The integration is so seamless.”

“The opportunity to push our country’s critical care assets far forward, provide wounded and ill servicemembers high quality care in unusual environments – say the back of a C-17 – and to bring families back together, that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning,” Branting said. “I’m training in the right place for that.”

Branting is now a critical care fellow at the medical center. He is headed to join a critical care air transport team when he completes training.

“The opportunity to push our country’s critical care assets far forward, provide wounded and ill servicemembers high quality care in unusual environments – say the back of a C-17 – and to bring families back together, that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning,” Branting said. “I’m training in the right place for that.”

Branting said the training is not just about handling critical trauma patients. He gets to work with national-class researchers and medical professionals in a wide range of areas.

“You need to learn to be a good emergency physician before you can go can do the unique things that Lt. Cols. Fontenette and Stuart have done,” Branting said. “UC Davis Health ensures that all of their trainees are extremely qualified physicians in every specialty. That’s why positions in these training programs are so sought after.”

Related stories and resources:

UC Davis Health physician awarded Bronze Star for efforts battling COVID-19 in Afghanistan.

Military partnership helps advance health for all.

Video of Rory Stuart from Afghanistan about Air Force Partnership with UC Davis Medical Center.