Navy medicine a force for global health

Navy’s surgeon general will visit Medical School

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

June 20, 2011
Adam M. Robinson Jr., MD

Vice Admiral Adam M. Robinson Jr., MD, U.S. Navy surgeon general and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, will discuss the Navy as a force for good in global humanitarian efforts on June 23. He was invited to UMass Medical School by former fellow Navy doctor W. Brian Sweeney, MD, associate clinical professor of surgery (inset).

More than just military might, the U.S. Navy exerts a global force in humanitarian relief efforts around the world. In the realm of health care, Navy medicine offers enlisted medical personnel unlimited professional opportunities and personal rewards as they care for patients, on land and on sea, according to Vice Admiral Adam M. Robinson Jr., MD, the 36th surgeon general of the Navy and chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. 

Dr. Robinson comes to the UMass Medical School Worcester campus on Thursday, June 23, to share personal reflections and elucidate the armed forces’ critical role in providing humanitarian assistance and health care around the world in his presentation “Navy Medicine's Role as a Global Force for Good.” The talk is sponsored by the Office of Global Health. 

Navy physicians treat patients suffering from everything from sickness to combat, disease to poverty, and hurricanes to earthquakes. Missions like Operation Continuing Promise 2011, an effort to build emergency preparedness and forge future partnerships currently underway in South and Central America and the Caribbean, exemplify the Navy’s commitment to global health in times of peace as well as war. 

"The Navy has been doing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief for years," Robinson said at a recent Navy conference. "We are the best suited for these missions because we can deploy medical capabilities around the world in a matter of hours and never skip a beat."

Robinson, who leads 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the globe, entered naval service in 1977 and earned his MD at the Indiana University School of Medicine through the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program. He has practiced surgery in the United States and abroad in numerous Navy medicine roles since then, culminating in 2007 with his appointment as surgeon general. In addition to numerous military decorations, he received the 2011 Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service from the American Medical Association. "The honor, courage and commitment I witness every day around the world from our military men and women, is humbling and truly inspiring,” Robinson said upon accepting the award. “From them, I have learned the importance of selfless service.” 

“Military leaders, including Dr. Robinson, are actively pursuing humanitarian efforts,” said Brian Sweeney, MD, associate clinical professor of surgery. Dr. Sweeney and Robinson became friends more than 20 years ago, when both served as colorectal surgeons at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, the main stateside naval military hospital. “I wanted the community to know what types of effort the armed forces are making for both disaster relief and humanitarian efforts, and the opportunities that exist,” Sweeney added. “Dr. Robinson started out in medicine and now he is a world leader.”

Robinson’s presentation will begin at noon in Amphitheatre III, S6-102, followed by an informal meet-and-greet with UMMS students, faculty and community members. A light lunch will be served. For more information, contact Kiger Lau in the Office of Global Health at