Outgoing Army Surgeon on soldier health care of tomorrow

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Article / July 4, 2016 / Project number: 16-0019

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Ottawa, ON  — As he begins the next phase of his career, the former senior medical officer of the Canadian Army (CA) says Canada’s military health providers are developing tools to help them be better partners to their fellow soldiers.

Colonel Jim Kile recently completed his term as Canadian Army Surgeon and took up his new position as Director of Medical Policy at Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Health Services Headquarters.

Despite his previous title, Col Kile did not work with a scalpel. In the CAF, a Surgeon is a military physician in a command role. In Col Kile’s case, this means he was responsible for the direction of the CA’s medical philosophy. This included training future generations of military doctors, and managing Canada’s medical contributions to international bodies such as NATO.

He said CAF health care providers are constantly striving to ensure they are able to offer the best possible support.

“We need to get it right,” he said. “And that gets us into understanding what it is the Army of Tomorrow is trying to do in terms of Adaptive Dispersed Operations. We in Health Services need to understand that concept better – and we are working on it.”

Getting it right, he added, includes not only services like Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) training, which is offered to CAF personnel on an ongoing basis, but also ensuring a high quality of care in-garrison at home in Canada as well as in the field.

R2MR is our integral support in terms of mental health. That’s a given, we do that from the day members are recruited and continue throughout their careers. The other thing that is going to help the Army prepare is just good quality garrison care so that we look after our folks and get them well as soon as possible.”

Col Kile, who has deployed to the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan where he served as Task Force Surgeon, also pointed to the importance of supporting the Army during operations and exercises and the efforts to improve interoperability in terms of equipment, standard of care and doctrine.

“In many ways, doctrine dictates the standard of care; it dictates the equipment that we use. So for example, if you put a role 3 somewhere, a multinational hospital, doctrine says you must have a CAT scanner. So if the Brits are the lead nation, based on our common doctrine, you would not have to tell them to put one there, it would be automatic.”

Col Kile explained that a lot of the work is being done through NATO and with the American British Canadian Australian New Zealand Army (ABCA) program to ensure mutual education and the required commonality.

“One of the big goals of ABCA is interoperability so that if an Australian field hospital is deployed and they ask us to provide the lab capabilities, then our lab capability can simply attach without issue. The Australian doctors can understand what our capability is and understand the product we produce and vice-versa.”

Col Kile’s valuing of education has been a constant throughout his military career, which began in 1989 with his enrollment in CAF through the Medical Officer Training Program.

He received a Master of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo in 1987. He then went on to receive his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Toronto, and completed special competency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Ottawa. His commitment to education includes being an active Waterloo alumnus.

This past April, he served as keynote speaker for the university’s Discovery Days in Health Sciences event. Created by the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, it provides opportunities for secondary school students to explore career possibilities in medicine and health sciences at various universities across Canada.

“His story really aligns with the purpose of Discovery Days,” said Nga Tran, an Alumni Advancement Officer at the University of Waterloo. “It showcased the variety of career options in medicine and health sciences.  Jim’s story is an inspiring example of another aspect of medicine and leadership beyond what one might expect.” 

In his new role Col Kile will likely continue to contribute to education and the Army of Tomorrow. “I’m going to be sad because I have really enjoyed it, but you’ve got to move on. Besides, variety is indeed the spice of life, so I am looking forward to my new position as Director of Medical Policy.”

By Lynn Capuano and Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

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