Note: This guest post was written by DK, an Air National Guard pararescueman and doctor of physical therapy.
BK recently wrote an article in which he cautioned against overreacting to the controversy surrounding military contractor and retired Army physician John Hagmann. Like BK, I interacted extensively with Dr. Hagmann during my career as an Air Force pararescueman, having taken his Operational Emergency Medical Skills course four times. At no point during those courses did Dr. Hagmann conduct himself in what I perceived to be an unprofessional manner, although he did teach and supervise numerous procedures that could be construed as somewhat risky without proper context.
I hope to provide that context to elucidate why training civilian trauma practitioners and SOF medics must necessarily differ. The non-medical accusations made against Dr. Hagmann are a different matter altogether and beyond the scope of this article. The personal aspects of this case should not, however, obscure the medical validity, the necessity, in fact, of the training espoused by Dr. Hagmann.
Despite graduating with a clinical doctorate from an Ivy League university, I can say without hesitation that the quality and clinical relevance of my training as a SOF medic far exceeded anything I encountered in formal academia, in a fraction of the time. Between the pararescue pipeline and continuing education courses like Dr. Hagmann’s, I learned to confidently and independently conduct procedures that a civilian with a comparable scope of practice (chest tubes, surgical airways, blood transfusions, narcotic administration) might not learn for 8-10 years.