Story by Seth Maggard | AFCLC


Language and cultural training, packed in with the right amount of Air Force job proficiency, can culminate into a valuable product. In November 2016, the German military spent four weeks working alongside that product as, 1st Lt Nadine Suh, a health services administrator assigned to 22d Medical Support Squadron at McConnell AFB, Kansas visited their largest Army hospital as a pioneer participant of the Language Enabled Airman Program.


The Bundeswehrzentralkrankenhaus, with a size to go along with its name, was an imposing task to throw on any US service member, but Suh instantly worked into the chaotic buzz of everyday operations around the gigantic hospital. Suh visited the hospital as part of her fully immersive cultural training, or Language Intensive Training Event, as part of the program.


“I was honored and surprised to be sent to Germany as a representative of the Air Force. It was invaluable to my career, continuing language, and the partnerships that will continue to grow [from this experience],” she said.


The participants get to complete their online language training with in-person cultural experiences, like Suh’s, that test, teach, and deliberately develop their skills that are pertinent and usable in their careers.


“I am very familiar with the culture and was able to easily adapt and integrate myself in the day to day operations,” she said “the LEAP staff specifically tailored the LITE based on my language and intercultural skills as well as my [Armed Forces Specialization Code].”


Suh started out like most LEAP participants, taking the Defense Language Proficiency Test and applying for the program. Through her synchronous online training, she made huge improvements from her selected 3/2+ entry scores, to an impressive 3/3/3 score, landing her a spot among some of the Air Force’s most ready and willing uniformed members with such a high understanding of German language and culture.


Suh had a unique opportunity to be completely immersed in every aspect that the immense hospital had to offer, from administration, to a day with the first responder crew, even to earning a Bundeswehr physical fitness badge.


I spent a day with central management and learned about the hospital’s billing and reimbursement system and how it developed from a fixed daily rate for a hospital stay to ICD-10 coding,” she said.


The hospital has been accredited through Joint Commission International since 2010. Since her unit is currently preparing for Joint Commission inspection, this was especially interesting and useful.


“I now have a better understanding and gained information on how the hospital promotes JCI philosophy and implements its standards.”


“This experience has been invaluable for me. I realized how important it is to speak the language in order not to lose it,” she said “this LITE allowed me to fully immerse myself and get comfortable speaking the language again and to learn the technical terms used in the military and my career field.”