Surviving 80-hour workweeks, living with the threat of funding cuts, working under less-than-ideal conditions and having to deliver bad news to patients are challenges most physicians and nurses must face every day. But filmmaker Terry Sanders, a two-time Academy Award winner, views this struggle through the prism of a war in his new feature-length documentary, Fighting for Life.
The film details challenges military-trained physicians, nurses and their soldier patients face in providing and receiving care on the ground in Iraq and at military trauma and rehabilitation facilities abroad and stateside.
Some situationslike the impromptu war-zone triage training that medical students receive at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.are unique to military medical practice. Many other challenges, however, are universal. In one scene, for example, viewers get to hear how Uniformed Services, which trained 25% of current active-duty military physicians, has survived no fewer than five serious threats of defunding and closure by Congress over the past 15 years. The federal government as a source of financial unreliability and stress will no doubt ring familiar to many civilian hospital workers who fear cuts to Medicare and Medicaid could affect their facilities.
Civilian medical workers will also appreciate the chaotic situations military medical personnel encounter on a daily basis. As one Uniformed Services professor explained of his students training, We teach them how to show up and impose order.
The movies executive producer, Tammy Alvarez, is a military wife and mother. Her father was an Army surgeon, her husband among the first soldiers shot down during the Vietnam War and her son is a Navy physician currently serving in Iraq. The film is being screened at various locations and is set for release in early October. For more see fightingforlifethemovie.com.