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Evolution of the deployed medical director role in an era of contingency operations: reflections from a United Nations operation
  1. Giles Nordmann1,2,
  2. J Ralph3 and
  3. J E Smith4,5
  1. 1 Academic Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2 Head of Capability Combat Service Support (Medical), Capability Directorate, UK Army Headquarters, Andover, UK
  3. 3 Royal Centre for Defence Medicine Clinical Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
  4. 4 Academic Department of Military Emergency Medicine, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
  5. 5 Emergency Department, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, Plymouth, Devon, UK
  1. Correspondence to Col Giles Nordmann, Academic Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK; giles.nordmann{at}


This paper examines the development and evolution of the deployed medical director (DMD) role and argues for the re-establishment of a formal selection process and training pathway. Recent deployments into new areas of operations, deployment of smaller medical treatment facilities (MTFs), the reduced numbers of deployments for clinicians, working with various multinational partners and both military and civilian organisations all pose specific problems for DMDs. The initial and then continued deployment of a secondary care role 2 MTF as part of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan illustrated some of these challenges. Although a novel operation, the broad categories of these new challenges were similar to the historical challenges facing the first DMDs in Afghanistan. Corporate memory loss may be unavoidable to some degree due to rapid turnover in appointments, particularly in single service and joint headquarters. However, individual memory and experience remains extant within the military medical deployable workforce. After the cessation of UK military deployed hospital care involvement in Afghanistan, the UK DMD formal training pathway ended. This paper argues for the re-establishment of a more formal DMD selection process and training pathway to ensure that organisational learning is optimised.

  • medical education & training
  • trauma management
  • health services administration & management

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  • Contributors GN formulated the idea for the paper. JR and JES cowrote the paper with GN.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.