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News | Nov. 20, 2023

Blood Bank Fellowship Specialist in Blood Banking program at Walter Reed reaccredited

By Bernard Little, WRNMMC, Office Command Communications

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) recently reaccredited the Armed Services Blood Bank Fellowship Specialist in Blood Banking program at Walter Reed.

“The review is a two-step process that includes a self-study document and a site visit. The site visit, that took place Oct. 23, verifies the information in the self-study document is correct and assesses the program’s compliance with CAAHEP standards,” explained Army Maj. Steven McDaniel, chief of blood services and regional blood manager at Walter Reed. He also serves as chief of research and education for pathology.

McDaniel added the accreditation site visit occurs every five years, and the last inspection of services at Walter Reed was in 2018. He credits William Turcan, the program director/education coordinator, Dr. James Long, medical director for blood services, and the entire blood services team for a successful site visit that included interviews with program officials, faculty members, current students, and program graduates, and a tour of the blood services’ facilities and classroom spaces.

“The program continues to surpass all CAAHEP standards with no deficiencies,” McDaniel stated.

The Armed Services Blood Bank Fellowship is an 18-month program founded in 1958 and mandated in 1972 by the Department of Defense (DOD) to accomplish the mission of maintaining an adequate military blood program. The tri-service training program prepares officers to become managers of large military hospital blood banks, transfusion services, blood donor centers, area and joint blood program officers, and service blood program officers. The need for blood bank specialty officers is indicated by the rapidly developing accreditation and federal regulatory requirements, which impact blood collection, processing, immunohematology testing, and the transfusion of blood and blood components.

The fellowship offers specialty, graduate training to fulfill the needs of the military services and the blood product needs, unique from other blood bank programs, McDaniel explained. The military program addresses the history of armed services’ blood banking, operational and mobilizing plans for blood support of combat casualties, and future blood planning of the Armed Services Blood Program at the Department of Defense level.

During its 65-years history, more than 300 students have graduated from the program, which began at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) when it was located on the campus of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) in Washington, D.C. The fellowship was established to train a cadre of officers to staff blood programs, hospital transfusion services, and donor centers during peace and war. In 1966, the fellowship transferred to the U.S. Army Medical Research Laboratory at Fort Knox, Kentucky. In July 1974, the fellowship was realigned under the Blood Bank Center at Fort Knox. It transferred to WRAMC in July 1976, and in September 2011, moved to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. It is currently located within the Department of Pathology. The program includes more than 40 weeks of didactic and clinical training. The Alexander T. Augusta Military Medical Center (formerly Fort Belvoir Community Hospital) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, is an additional clinical site for transfusion service and administrative operations for the program. In addition, fellowship students participate in various site visits, including to the Armed Services Whole Blood Processing Laboratory East at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, and the West Point blood drive, an annual Army tradition providing students with an appreciation for large-scale donor center operations.

The didactic curriculum for the program includes subjects such as coagulation, hematology, blood banking methodology, blood donor qualifications, collection and storage of blood for transfusion, anemias, platelet disorders, disorders of leukopoiesis, circulation, immune destruction of red cells, shock, and more.

The clinical curriculum includes donor recruitment and records, donor history and phlebotomy, donor blood process, record maintenance and donor files, preparation of blood components, transfusion service area, quality assurance, histocompatibility and tissue type, coagulation laboratory, diagnostic immunology, transplantation support and more.

The CAAHEP is a programmatic postsecondary accrediting agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The commission carries out its accrediting activities in cooperation with 25 review Committees on Accreditation, setting standards for quality assurance in health professions education.
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