MMA Students Prepare to Take Charge

Student in medical protective gear

Maine Maritime Academy student getting hands-on medical training.

MMA’s MD311 Medical Person in Charge (MEDPIC) class provides students with the unique opportunity to learn emergency life-saving skills in a hospital setting. Since its inception in 2017, Maine Maritime students have completed clinical rotations in the Emergency Department at Waldo County General Hospital (WCGH) in Belfast, Maine, under the tutelage of Professor Jeffrey Boal.

Maine Maritime Academy is the only maritime school in the United States to offer students this kind of real-life, hands-on experience. While completing shifts in the ER, participants handle actual emergencies and execute life-saving procedures. They learn and perfect various medical tasks such as IV placements and administration of medications and complete physical examinations and assessments on a diverse patient population. The program’s overall aim is to help MEDPIC students identify potentially life-threatening situations that might occur at sea and be prepared to manage various situations appropriately.

The Anesthesia Department at WCGH recently added the option of completing airway management training with patients in the Operating Room. Alongside Professor Boal, WCGH staff teach students to provide advanced medical care for patients who require assistance with breathing. This includes the insertion of breathing tubes for those who cannot continue to breathe independently.

“There’s no other program like this,” explains Boal. “Our students apply what they learn in class directly to patients at WCGH, and the results are transformative. They are saving lives long before they even graduate.”

Since its inception, 182 students have completed the classroom and hands-on training required to obtain a MEDPIC endorsement for their mariner license. “It’s amazing to hear from students who have completed the program and have been able to use their skills in the field,” continues Boal. “Robert Pfeiff ’21 was able to diagnose and evacuate a sailor with appendicitis during a recent hitch, and John Fendl ’19 treated and evacuated a patient with an extremity amputation. Their skills and experience are being well used. This stuff really pays off!”

With the class of 2022, an additional 24 students are underway to obtaining their endorsement. Without exception, all the students in this class point to their Emergency Department experience as essential for their MEDPIC training.

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