"Optimizing Combat Casualty Care"

USAISR Leadership




Colonel (Dr.) Shawn C. Nessen grew up in the small town of Tremonton, Utah where he graduated from Bear River High School in 1983.He attended Idaho State University on a football scholarship where he also joined ROTC and served in the Idaho National Guard in 1986. Colonel Nessen completed his ROTC training in 1988 as a Distinguished Military Cadet, and was commissioned in the early commissioning program as a 2LT. He received a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Biology in 1990 cum laude and then attended Des Moines University School of Osteopathic Medicine receiving a DO degree in 1995.

He completed his residency in General Surgery at William Beaumont Medical Center in El Paso, TX in 2000 and in 2011 completed a Fellowship in Acute Care Surgery and Critical Care Surgery at the University of Nevada School of Medicine University Medical Center in Las Vegas, NV.

He is board certified in general surgery and critical care surgery. Colonel Nessen’s military service as an officer began as an Armor Platoon Leader in the Idaho National Guard in 1988 and continued until he entered medical school in 1991 on an HPSP scholarship.

Following completion of residency in 2000, he served as a staff surgeon and later Chief of the General Surgery Service at Fort Riley, KS where he concurrently served as the flight surgeon for the 82nd Air Ambulance Company.

Colonel Nessen deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom for 9 months in 2003. There he served as a surgeon for the 28th CSH and also logged 30 mission hours as medical officer with the 82nd Air Ambulance Company.

In 2005, Colonel Nessen assumed command of the 782nd FST (Airborne) which later was reflagged as the 541st FST (Airborne). His command of these two units included a humanitarian deployment to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and a 15 month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from October 2006 to February 2008.

There, his team successfully conducted split based operation in the Paktika and Helminth Provinces and treated over 800 combat wounded, performed over 500 surgeries and procedures, transfused over 1300 units of blood and achieved a 97.64% survival percentage for all casualties. Colonel Nessen’s understanding of battlefield combat casualty care and his research abilities subsequently significantly advanced fresh whole blood transfusion therapy in austere settings.

Upon completion of Fellowship training in 2011, Colonel Nessen became the Deputy Commander for Clinical Services of the 212th Combat Support Hospital in Miseau, Germany, and later served as the Chief of the Department of Surgery at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) while concurrently serving as a staff critical care surgeon.

During Colonel Nessen’s time in Europe, LRMC treated over 3,800 wounded soldiers and re-verified as the only trauma center outside the continental United States. He also led the development of the Department of Tele-Health and leveraged that technology to increase surgical workload at LRMC.

From Germany, Colonel Nessen transferred to Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning, Georgia where he served as the Deputy Commander for Clinical Service. His leadership there contributed to the successful opening of the new Martin Army Community Hospital and the subsequent successful Joint Commission Survey.

While DCCS, the Fort Benning Medical Activity made significant advancements in soldier readiness, surgical and ICU case complexity, patient and staff satisfaction, and access to primary and specialty care. In 2015, Colonel Nessen became the Trauma Consultant to the U.S. Army Surgeon General and in 2016, he assumed command of the United States Army Institute of Surgical Research where he currently serves.

Colonel Nessen’ s Military education includes graduation form the AMEDD Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the US Army flight Surgeon and Airborne Courses, Command and General Staff College, and the United States Army War College where he was recognized as a distinguished graduate. Colonel Nessen is the lead Editor and Author of the award winning textbook War Surgery in Afghanistan and Iraq A Series of Cases 2003-2007.

Additionally, he has published 35 scientific papers, abstracts and book chapters focused on combat casualty care and blood transfusion of trauma patients, and he has lectured extensively nationally and internationally. He currently holds the academic rank of Professor of Surgery. COL Nessen’s Awards include the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Army Commendation Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters.

He is a recipient of the Order of Military Medical Merit, and a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons. He and his co-editors received the American Medical Writer’s Association Medical Book of the Year Award in 2009. He is a recipient of the Combat Action Badge, the Humanitarian Service Medal and the Expert Field Medic Badge.

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