Camp Pendleton, California - Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton held a graduation ceremony for its Residents and Interns in the hospital's Medal of Honor Mall, June 30.
Twelve Family Medicine residents, four Dental residents, two Sports Medicine fellows, one Pharmacy resident and 13 Family Medicine interns graduated during the ceremony.
As one of only three naval hospitals with a training program for family medicine doctors, NHCP takes in several residents per year to train them to give Marines, Sailors and their families the best care possible.
The guest speaker, who delivered his speech via video teleconference, was Capt. Mark Flynn -- a prior program director at NHCP and currently the head medical officer at Branch Health Clinic Diego Garcia. During his commencement speech, Flynn mentioned where each graduate was headed and gave everyone their own personal congratulations. Following that he gave the graduates a few lessons learned during his Naval career and offered advice as they move forward in theirs.
"I hope you all feel well prepared and are ready to take on new challenges," said Flynn. "And to all the families, know that you too have been instrumental in getting to this day and are deserving of congratulations as well."
All new Navy doctors arriving at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton participate in a one-year internship, where upon completion they either continue training for two more years as a resident or go out into the fleet as a general medicine officer.
Lt. Luke Womble, a graduating intern, will be staying at NHCP for the remainder of his residency and said while the internship was difficult, the support from the staff and fellow residents helped to push him without making him feel forced or alone.
"Now is the time to see as much as you can while you're under the supervision of other doctors.; you have a great support system to help you as you're learning and they serve as your safety net," said Womble. "I learned a lot this year and it's really exciting to see how much I've grown as a physician."
While operating as residents, the graduates have been working 60-80 hours per week. This ceremony gives them the completion of a milestone needed to continue in their naval careers.
Dental residents are new dental school graduates that elect to receive one year of postgraduate training in specialty care diagnosis and treatment, in addition to managing patients in a hospital environment.
Sports Medicine fellows are usually Family Medicine physicians returning from the fleet to further their education in treating and preventing injuries associated with intense physical activity.
The Pharmacy Residency Program at NHCP is a one-year accredited program that provides increased clinical pharmacy skills and helps to better identify problems related to drug therapy and provide sound recommendations to physicians.
Lt. Lauren Alderson, a 3rd year graduate headed to Naval Hospital Oak Harbor at Whidbey Island, Washington, said her experience was a lot better than she anticipated and she is excited to move on to her next command.
"The biggest takeaway that I have is just feeling confident in both what I know and what I don't know," said Alderson. "They have trained us well, but as a family medicine doctor you can't know everything, so you have to know your limits and be ready to ask questions. My advice to the new interns is to be humble. Being an intern is not easy so you have to earn respect and trust. If you are knowledgeable and humble it will take you very far."
Womble lended a piece of advice as well.
"My biggest piece of advice would be to keep a positive attitude throughout the year," said Womble. "By keeping a positive outlook, I found that the work was more enjoyable, and looking back it has been a very fun year."