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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Queen recognises student’s leadership skills

BSMS > About BSMS > News > 2015 > Queen recognises student's leadership skills

Queen recognises student's leadership skills

BSMS postgraduate student and Royal Navy Captain, Julie Thain-Smith has been awarded the Queens’ Commendation for Valuable Service in the latest Operational Honours.

Captain Thain-Smith, who is studying for an MSc in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, was deployed as the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) Chief Medical Advisor in Kabul for 11 months last year.

An extract of her citation reads:

"Captain Thain-Smith immediately established her credentials as a medical and staff officer of the very highest calibre. The provision of effective medical care has been a critical capability shortfall for the Afghan National Security Forces which has been keenly felt as they have increasingly taken the operational lead against a determined and brutal insurgency. Undaunted by the magnitude of the task, she readily took the campaign lead for delivering the mentoring effort in support of the Afghan medical component.

"Formulating an ambitious plan and inspiring her multi-national team of over fifty military and civilian personnel in mentoring Afghan medical staff, Thain-Smith drove the Afghans to ever higher levels of competence and ownership of the treatment of the wounded. Most notably, she tirelessly engaged at the Afghan Ministerial and General Staff levels to ensure the timely delivery of an impressive Role 2 medical facility in Helmand Province to support the most kinetically engaged Afghan units."

As well as mentoring her Afghan medical colleagues, Captain Thain-Smith was the lead medical planner in theatre, and was responsible for the delivery of Coalition Force medical care across Afghanistan and planning for the medical component in the follow on Resolute Support mission.  

“Leading an international team of medical, nursing, medical support officers and logisticians to deliver the required NATO mission outputs was definitely a challenge, although it was one I relished,” says Captain Thain-Smith. “I drew from my existing leadership and management competences honed during my career in the Royal Navy and brought all the academic theory I have immersed myself in so far from my academic pathway at BSMS to life!”

BSMS Leadership and Commissioning Course Leader, Breda Flaherty says: “We have seen our students’ leadership skills used across a wide range of healthcare areas in the UK and abroad, but commanding forces in Afghanistan is a first for us. It’s very welcome to see Julie’s outstanding leadership recognised, and we’re proud to have helped her enhance these skills.”