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News | Jan. 23, 2024

USMEPCOM Gets Ahead of Summer Surge with Army Providers

By Ashley Toomey USMEPCOM

USMEPCOM processes applicants into the U.S. armed services every day but anticipates a yearly spike in applicant enlistments during summer months, when an influx in applicants come through Freedom’s Front Door that is commonly referred to as “summer surge.”

The electronic health record MHS GENESIS, deployed to USMEPCOM in March 2022, has improved the quality of medical assessments of applicants, but has also significantly increased the medical prescreen workload for USMEPCOM’s medical workforce, making summer surges busier than ever for the MEPS.

“With the deployment of MHS GENESIS, our workload has at least doubled because we have so much more information to look through now and we don’t have the staff at USMEPCOM to accomplish that workload,” said Dr. Ashley Jackson, Western Sector Medical Officer and lead surge provider trainer.

In July 2023, the Army deployed more than 80 medical personnel to MEPS around the country to assist USMEPCOM with the surge in applicants and additional workload.

“In an effort to make our accessions mission and keep the integrity of our all-volunteer force, the Army lent us some support,” said Dr. Jackson.

This year, the Army is again helping USMEPCOM get ahead of summer surge by sending more than 60 medical providers, including doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The first wave of 46 Army providers arrived at USMEPCOM headquarters North Chicago, Ill., Jan. 8 for four days of training before going to the MEPS.

The training equipped the providers with the knowledge of the MEPS workflow, MHS GENESIS prescreen processes and additional resources to ensure a seamless transition at the MEPS.

“It helps people in uniform really understand the accessions process, because there’s a lot of misconceptions about what MEPS is and what the whole accessions pipeline means,” said Dr. Jackson. “They were very excited about working and learning what we do. They get to see the beginning of the applicants’ military careers.”

This is just the first batch of providers being sent to the MEPS. The second set of providers will attend the same training in February 2024. In addition to the providers, the Army sent 46 medical technicians directly to the MEPS where they will receive on-the-job training. All the medical technicians and providers will be assigned to their MEPS for approximately six months.

The command recognizes and appreciates the support from the Army and the individual medical personnel sent to accomplish the applicant processing mission.

“This is a huge undertaking for the providers tasked to this mission,” said Air Force Maj. Daniel Strickland, USMEPCOM deputy command surgeon. “They are not only leaving their home station and their family for six months, but they are also learning the USMEPCOM processes and procedures in a condensed training.” 

This route is a stop-gap solutions to the increased workload as the command is pursues AI capabilities to automate prescreen review and long-term manpower increases.