A physician assistant dedicated to improving optimal care for trauma patients has been recognized for his efforts to make Womack Army Medical Center a certified trauma center.

Maj. George Barbee, an emergency medicine physician assistant in WAMC’s Department of Emergency Medicine, was recently awarded the 2012 Surgeon General’s Physical Assistant Recognition Award.

“It is essentially the Army’s equivalent of the ‘PA of the Year’ award,” said Col. Steven J. Brewster, WAMC commander.

“He saw the need for WAMC to seek trauma center certification and more importantly, he identified how WAMC needed to change, update, and improve clinical practices to better support and treat trauma patients. Because of his efforts, we are well on our way toward receiving national-level recognition as a level 3 trauma center,” added Brewster.

Barbee’s supervisor, Lt. Col. Peter J. Buckley, agrees. He is WAMC deputy director of Ambulatory Care and chief of Department of Emergency Medicine.

“Major Barbee does not want us to lose the lessons we have learned from a decade of war. During this decade the American military medical provider has saved countless lives through advancing knowledge in the arena of battlefield injuries. It is here that Major Barbee’s quest through trauma certification will bring those lessons learned from the battlefield to our emergency department,” he said.

“Our long-term goal is to continue improvements in our system in order to support the military and its beneficiaries. This mission is multi-faceted and encompasses components such as injury prevention, working with our civilian counterparts, and internal performance improvement measures,” said Barbee.

Barbee said winning the award was a humbling experience.

“It is an honor and a privilege to receive this award. I want to thank everyone who has had a positive influence on my career,” he said.

A passion for medicine, learning and caring for patients steered Barbee towards the profession of physician assistant. He holds a doctorate of science in physician assistant studies in emergency medicine from Baylor University in Waco, Texas and is currently a chief fellow at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The three-month fellowship provides participants with insight into cutting-edge technology and potentially aid in developing a future DARPA technology. Fellows from each service have the opportunity to dive deeply into specific technology development in areas of interest to them and to their respective service, as well as a chance to understand the breadth of DARPA research across the spectrum of technology development, said Barbee.

At DARPA, Barbee is focusing on technologies associated with combat trauma management, human optimization, strategic social interactions and medical technologies.

Barbee joined the Army in 1987 and has a wife, Lisa, two stepsons; William Patton Swann, a Soldier in the North Carolina National Guard; Matthews Scott Swann, an aviator with the Army; and two grandchildren.