Trust in one's professionalism is a two-way street in the Air Force

  • Published
  • By Col. James S. Moeller
  • 62nd Medical Squadron
A few years ago I overturned a 4-wheeler while vacationing in the mountains and broke my shoulder in three places. As a result, I was forced to trust my life and well being to other medical professionals. As a physician I have often asked others to trust my training, knowledge and judgment in matters that involve their health and well being. I have been fortunate to rarely be on the other side, as a patient, needing to trust other health professionals. This injury forced me to put my trust in other professionals to perform surgery and to help me with the rehabilitation process. There is nothing like experiencing it first hand to remind us that we need to trust our lives to other professionals.

Trusting other professionals is not a new experience to those of us in the Air Force. We all trust each other's professionalism to do the right thing every time and trust each other with our lives. Every time I fly in an aircraft, I trust all those who have prepared, maintained and inspected the aircraft. I trust the aircrew to have diligently studied, trained and prepared for the mission and to professionally perform their flying duties. I trust the air traffic controllers to keep us safe from collisions and communications personnel to keep the landing aids properly functioning.

In my own profession of medicine, while I was hospitalized I had to not only trust the physicians, but also the nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, lab personnel, X-ray techs and, in today's world, the information systems people to do the right thing. It's good to be reminded that we all are dependent on a whole network of people to do their jobs right.

But it is also important to remind ourselves that others depend on our professionalism, too. This experience reminded me that all of us in the Air Force need to do our jobs professionally, accurately and to the highest standards all of the time. Especially in our military profession, lives depend on it. And, ultimately, our entire country depends on it.