One of the commitments the U.S. Navy makes to its members is to see to their healthcare needs. To uphold this commitment, the Navy staffs its healthcare system with many doctors, nurses and technicians. The Navy also brings in and supports doctors with a wide variety of specialties, such as family practice, cardiology and orthopedics. Becoming a Navy doctor takes some work, but if you're serious, the Navy can help you achieve that goal.
Navy Doctor Careers
Navy doctors serve on shore and at sea on large ships, such as aircraft carriers, in addition to aviation squadrons. Navy doctors also frequently serve with U.S. Marine Corps units to provide health services. Navy doctors are commissioned officers and earn officer-level pay plus special incentive pay. Navy physician special pay amounts vary by specialty and time in service. Navy doctors agreeing to serve additional time after their contract expires receive bonuses of up to $60,000.
Medical Corps Commissions
The Navy seeks incoming and current medical school students, as well as practicing physicians, to staff its ranks as Navy Medical Corp officers. All Navy officers, including physicians, must meet the Navy's general height, weight and physical qualification standards. Additionally, only students of or graduates from medical schools accredited by the American Medical Association or American Osteopathic Association generally qualify for commissions as Navy doctors. Foreign medical school graduates can qualify for Navy Medical Corps officer commissions, but only under specific circumstances.
Military Medical School
The U.S. military operates its own AMA-accredited medical school, where it trains future Navy, Army and Air Force doctors. The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, accepts students desiring a medical school education and service as a commissioned officer. Applicants to USUHS must take the Medical College Admissions Test and score an average of 31 out of 45. The four-year college grade point average for incoming USUHS students is about 3.6 out 4.0.
Current Practicing Physicians
Already practicing physicians who are graduates of accredited medical schools may apply for a commission as a Navy doctor through a Navy recruiter. The Navy accepts physicians ages 21 to 64 who can pass a medical exam and meet the physical fitness standards appropriate to their age. Also, incoming Navy doctors must already possess state licensure or obtain it within one year of entering the Navy.
Health Professions Scholarships
If you want to become a physician but the cost is intimidating, the Navy may be able to help. The Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program, or HPSP, will pay for all of your medical school expenses, plus give you a monthly stipend of more than $2,100. The application process for HPSP scholarships generally takes from 12 to 16 weeks. If you plan to attend or are already in medical school, seek out a Navy recruiter to learn about options and scholarship offerings.
- Navy Medicine Professional Development Center: The Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP)
- Uniformed Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences: What You Need to Know
- Navy Medicine Professional Development Center: Officer Development School (ODS)
- U.S. Navy: Physician
- Navy Times: 2012 Medical and Dental Special Pay Rates
- U.S. Navy: Physician Jobs
Tony Guerra served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He also spent seven years as an airline operations manager. Guerra is a former realtor, real-estate salesperson, associate broker and real-estate education instructor. He holds a master's degree in management and a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies.