When American service men and women need the help of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in the coming years, there’s a good chance JPS Health Network will play a role in helping to make them better.
Dr. Daniel Hammer, a Lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, will end a year-long fellowship at JPS in the spring to return to military duties. He’ll be heading to San Diego, California where he’ll perform oral surgery at the U.S. Navy Medical Center there – one of the Navy’s three major surgical training centers -- helping to prepare the next generation of military oral and maxillofacial surgeons.
“There’s no question that I am a better doctor now than I was when I arrived at JPS,” Hammer said. “I have learned so much that I can take back with me to help me in caring for our wounded warriors. I don’t think I could have learned as much anywhere else. I’m so grateful to have had this experience.”
Hammer will follow in the footsteps of Dr. Jason Burkes who left a similar fellowship at JPS in October of 2018 to become an oral surgeon at one of the other two surgical training sites, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Bethesda, Maryland. That means a JPS alumni will be responsible for leading oral surgery at two of the Navy’s three surgical training centers, according to Dr. Fayette Williams, Division of Maxillofacial Oncology & Reconstructive Surgery Director at the health network.
“It's a great honor to have the US military trust us with the training of their reconstructive surgeons through our fellowship,” Williams said. “Our fellows have helped us pioneer cutting edge techniques in jaw reconstruction performed in only a few places in the world. These techniques reduce the number of operations needed and minimize the time required to complete jaw reconstruction. We have been very successful applying this to traumatic ballistic injuries to the face. This is the state-of-the-art care our soldiers need.”
Hammer said when he was looking for fellowship opportunities, he applied to hospitals across the country. But JPS was where he wanted to be all along.
“You go on interviews and meet people but, ultimately, a computer decides who gets assigned where,” Hammer said. “I was familiar with the work of Dr. Williams and was really hoping I was assigned to JPS. I feel very fortunate to be able to advance my skills here.”
Hammer said nothing could compare to the experience he’s had at JPS and the cases he’s had the opportunity to participate in. There’s no substitute for scrubbing in and getting involved in cases to learn how things are supposed to be done.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons specialize in treating diseases, injuries and other issues that develop in the head, neck, face, jaws and the hard and soft tissues of the mouth, jaws and face. Issues OMFS surgeons face include providing care for patients with cleft lips and palates to adults with jaw tumors, cancer, extensive dental problems and facial trauma.
Hammer said he owes the Navy five years of service after returning to duty. When his time in the military is done, he said he wouldn’t be disappointed if he ended up back at JPS.
“If Fort Worth is where my path eventually leads, I don’t think I would mind that at all,” Hammer said. “Great things are happening here and it’s an honor to serve our patients. I’m very thankful for my time here.”