After 26 years in the U.S. Army a key takeaway for Col. (Dr.) Karl Brewer, chief medical officer (CMO) Womack Army Medical Center, is people first.
"I have yet to master this, but as a leader when you make time to talk to your staff, learn about them and what they do, they feel valued, and it makes for a better organization," said Brewer.
Brewer values WAMC and the most important element, its people. Brewer joined the WAMC team during the second wave of COVID-19. Most of his time was focused on solving unique and challenging problems associated with the pandemic.
“It was a very resilient staff who kept us moving forward day after day and pulled us through this exceptional time,” said Brewer.
According to Brewer, with COVID-19 behind them, He is inspired by the direction of WAMC Commander, Col. David Zinnante.
"Just seeing our new commander, up in front of people, his attitude, people first and positive outlook is inspiring," said Brewer. "It’s nice to know that we have leaders like that in the Army, that will definitely stick with me."
Brewer’s advice for the next CMO is to be intentional about engaging with your staff because it makes a difference.
Brewer's military medical journey began at the Uniformed Services University School of the Health Sciences and then to Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, where he completed his internal medicine residency.
Newly married with a baby on the way, the military provided him and his family with the stability they needed while eliminating medical school expenses.
"For young families, reducing stress is the key to success, so that's why we chose that direction, and it worked out well," said Brewer.
Initially, Brewer tried to attend graduate architectural school but when he was not accepted into his school of choice, he opted to find an architectural job.
“The real world of architectural work was not fulfilling,” said Brewer.
Brewer changed focus and attended medical school, following in his father’s footstep who is a physician.
Throughout his career he has relocated multiple times, but he has enjoyed the balance of providing both clinical care and leadership.
Relocating is never easy but having that strong family structure according to Brewer, has been beneficial to him and his family.
"What I have appreciated most is our journey together, my wife and I, that’s the most important part, lots of great experiences and challenges that you have to overcome together," said Brewer.
Following his retirement, Brewer will continue to serve as a physician, doing what he loves, taking care of people.