Reconciling Air Force Physicians' Peacetime and Wartime Capabilities

Demonstration of a Workforce Design Methodology

by Susan D. Hosek, Joan L. Buchanan, George A. Goldberg


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This report documents a project to investigate alternative ways of bridging important differences between the Air Force Medical Service's peacetime and wartime missions. It uses information from a RAND survey of Air Force physicians' wartime skills and a mathematical programming model. It summarizes the model, documents the results of the skill survey, describes criteria for joint-mission medical manpower planning, and uses the model to analyze the effect of wartime cross-specialty substitution and peacetime resource constraints on physician capability. Among the conclusions suggested by the research are the following: (1) a wartime substitution policy based on the current tri-service substitution list could substantially improve wartime capability; (2) additional improvements would result if the tri-service list were revised in accordance with survey results; and (3) well-designed substitution roles for nonsurgeons can free surgeons to spend most of their time in surgery.

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