IDMT, the art of medicine

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ericka A. Woolever
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Hippocrates, Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, said, "Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.”

Who better demonstrates this theory than U.S. Air Force health care professionals? 

One of the U.S. Air Force’s missions is to provide Airmen and their families with the best health care possible. From general medicine to highly focused subspecialties, there are dozens of health care careers in the U.S. Air Force, yet there is only one enlisted health care provider in the Air Force Medical Service Corps: the Independent Duty Medical Technician.

“I am extremely proud to be an IDMT,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Anton Garcia Hayward, 555th Fighter Squadron IDMT. “It feels as though I am a part of a tight-knit, elite group of highly-trained medics ready to do whatever, whenever, with no hesitation, and I love that feeling.”

An IDMT is the only enlisted health care provider who can give care in the absence of a licensed, privileged or credentialed health care provider at U.S. Air Force medical treatment facilities, host medical treatment facilities, remote or deployed sites.

“I jokingly call IDMTs deployable hospitals since we can take care of so many functions found in the military medical facilities,” said Tech. Sgt. Nick Smith, 31st Operational Medical Readiness Squadron flight chief of reliability operational clinic and independent duty medical technician.

“As an IDMT you never quite know exactly what's next,” said Garcia. “As a new IDMT I found myself on a joint operation with the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, searching for remains of missing in action personnel from [World War II]. It was only a month later I was assigned to a fighter squadron, which meant taking on a short notice combat deployment in the Middle East.”

With this responsibility, IDMTs are required to maintain proficiency in multiple disciplines throughout the medical field, explained Smith.

“As IDMTs, we are in a constant state of training,” said Garcia. “Training for us doesn't end after IDMT school, it continues year-round. We are required to stay up to date on our national certifications and be mission ready.”

On an average day an IDMT could be working at dental, pharmacy, public health, bioenvironmental engineering, immunizations or laboratory, explained Smith.

“Our scope of practice is quite broad in terms of acute conditions we can treat,” said Garcia. “We can see anything from treating common upper respiratory infections to performing minor surgeries, like toenail removals, or more lifesaving interventions like endotracheal intubation.”

As an IDMT’s schedule changes, so do the challenges.

“There are so many things to know, and those things are constantly changing and evolving, so you have to always be ready to learn something new,” said Tech. Sgt. Kimberly Weaver, 606th Air Control Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of medical readiness.

Nonetheless, there seems to always to be one thing to look forward to.

“I love being an IDMT because I get to see the effects of treating a patient,” said Smith. “I get to see that a patient came to me with some sort of illness or injury, and I was able to help that patient get better and back into the fight as fast as possible.”