Medical & Healthcare Careers in the Military

Learn how you can serve your country and advance your skills by becoming a military healthcare professional.

Last Updated: 03/05/2020
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MEET THE EXPERT

Ron Kness
Ron Kness

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Ron Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years with the Minnesota Army National Guard. For three years, Mr. Kness served as the 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division Command Sergeant Major, traveling to operational theaters, active duty and National Guard posts, and military medical facilities to help soldiers and their families. Mr. Kness also served on the Senior Leadership Team that developed and implemented Minnesota’s “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” program. He holds a BA in Business Administration from Metropolitan State University, Saint Paul, MN, and is a graduate of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy located in El Paso, TX.

Whether you’re already a licensed healthcare professional or want to become one, the military has medical career opportunities to suit your interests and goals. In this guide, you’ll find detailed guidance for entering a medical military career, including examples of healthcare jobs by branch, a breakdown of the pathway options and eligibility requirements, and a list of tangible benefits that come with serving in the military.

Explore Military Healthcare Jobs by Branch and Service Type

Use the career search tool below to begin exploring just some of the many healthcare and medical careers available in the military. This is not designed to be a complete list, so for more details about military healthcare employment options, education/training opportunities, and benefits, refer to each military branch’s recruiting website or talk to a recruiter. You can also see additional career options in our pathways to the military section and use the links in the resources section at the bottom of this guide.

Search

Military Medical Career Search Tool

Filters

Military Branch

Service Type

Position Level

Animal Care Specialist

DESCRIPTION
Assists veterinarians with surgical procedures and provides emergency and routine medical procedures on a variety of government-owned animals.
REQUIREMENTS
– Complete 10 weeks of basic training and 11 weeks of advance training in animal care – Must have skilled technical ASVAB score of at least a 91
MILITARY BRANCH

Army

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard

POSITION LEVEL

Enlisted

Post-Service Career & Education Opportunities

Army Dental Specialist

DESCRIPTION

Assists Army dentists in the examination and treatment of patients. Tasks include preparing dental operatory, selecting and arranging instruments, measuring and recording vitals, and preparing restorative and impression materials.

REQUIREMENTS

– 10 weeks of basic combat training and 8 weeks of advanced individual training, including practicing dental care tasks in a military medical facility
– Skilled Technical ASVAB score of at least 91

MILITARY BRANCH

Army

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard

POSITION LEVEL

Enlisted

Post-Service Career & Education Opportunities

Biomedical Equipment Specialist

DESCRIPTION

Repairs, replaces and inspects medical devices used in medical practice ensuring they function properly and fall within operating specifications.

REQUIREMENTS

– High school diploma or equivalent
– 8.5 weeks of basic training and 207 days of technical training

MILITARY BRANCH

Air Force

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard

POSITION LEVEL

Officer

Post-Service Career & Education Opportunities

Clinical Nurse

DESCRIPTION

Clinical nurses serve in clinics as direct care providers, educators, patient advocates, and problem solvers.

REQUIREMENTS

– Bachelor’s degree in nursing from a school accredited by the BSN program
– Minimum of 12 months of registered nurse experience in surgical nursing
– Completion of five-and-a-half-week Commissioned Officer Training course
– Be between the ages of 18 and 47

MILITARY BRANCH

Air Force

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard

POSITION LEVEL

Officer

Combat Medic

DESCRIPTION

Provides emergency medical treatment and evacuation from the point of injury or illness.

REQUIREMENTS

– Complete 10 weeks of basic training and 16 weeks of advanced training
– Have an ASVAB skilled technical score of at least 101 and a general technical score of at least 107

MILITARY BRANCH

Army

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard

POSITION LEVEL

Enlisted

Post-Service Career & Education Opportunities

Dental Officer

DESCRIPTION

Performs checkups, fills cavities, and offers preventative care using cutting-edge dental technology.

REQUIREMENTS

– Graduate of a dental school approved by the American Dental Association
– Licensed to practice in the U.S., Puerto Rico or a U.S. territory
– Be willing to serve for at least three years on active duty
– Be between the ages of 21 and 41

MILITARY BRANCH

Navy

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve

POSITION LEVEL

Officer

Environmental Health Officer

DESCRIPTION

Responsible for food service sanitation, drinking water surveillance, disease outbreak investigations, and helping combat the threat of bioterrorism.

REQUIREMENTS

– Must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in environmental health
– Be willing to serve for at least three years on active duty
– Be between the ages of 18 and 41

MILITARY BRANCH

Navy

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve

POSITION LEVEL

Officer

Family Physician

DESCRIPTION

Provides comprehensive preventative and maintenance healthcare to Airmen and their families.

REQUIREMENTS

– Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree
– Completed residency in family practice or board certification by either the American Board of Family Practice or Board of Osteopathic Specialties
– Must also complete a 5.5-week commissioned officer course
– Be between the ages of 18 and 48

MILITARY BRANCH

Air Force

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard

POSITION LEVEL

Officer

Health Services Manager

DESCRIPTION

Schedules initial and follow-up patient appointments, processes medical records, coordinates payments, and prepares staffing plans.

REQUIREMENTS

– High school diploma or GED equivalent
– Completion of 8.5 weeks of basic training and 36 days of technical training at Fort Sam Houston, TX.

MILITARY BRANCH

Air Force

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard

POSITION LEVEL

Enlisted

Health Services Technician

DESCRIPTION

Provides emergency healthcare services and daily medical care for Coast Guard personnel and their families. Tasks include assisting medical officers with diagnostic testing, X-rays, lab tests, prescribing medications, administering immunizations and performing minor surgical procedures.

REQUIREMENTS

– Graduate from basic training and 5 months of intensive “A” school training

MILITARY BRANCH

Coast Guard

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve

POSITION LEVEL

Enlisted

Medical Corps Officer

DESCRIPTION

Responsible for the health of soldiers and their families in clinical/hospital settings, and the management of casualties in field hospitals on the battlefield.

REQUIREMENTS

– Graduate of an American Medical Association or American Osteopathic Association accredited medical school
– Current unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico or a territory of the United States
– Be between 21 and 42 years of age

MILITARY BRANCH

Army

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard

POSITION LEVEL

Officer

Post-Service Career & Education Opportunities

Navy Hospital Corpsman

DESCRIPTION

Performs emergency medical treatment on Navy, Marine and other military personnel injured in the field. Helps administer a wide range of preventive care and medications, and maintains patient treatment records.

REQUIREMENTS

– After boot camp, attend “A” school at Fort Sam Houston, TX for 14 weeks

MILITARY BRANCH

Navy

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve

POSITION LEVEL

Enlisted

Nurse Corps Officer

DESCRIPTION

Provides nursing care in military medical treatment facilities, on deployments and humanitarian aid missions, and onboard ships.

REQUIREMENTS

– Student or graduate of an accredited nursing program
– Either currently licensed or will become licensed within one year of beginning active duty
– Be between the ages of 18 and 41

MILITARY BRANCH

Navy

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve

POSITION LEVEL

Officer

Pathologists

DESCRIPTION

Pathologists test and study biological specimens to help physicians facilitate patient diagnosis and prescribe a treatment plan.

REQUIREMENTS

– Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from an approved school of medicine or osteopathic medicine
– Completion of a residency or fellowship in pathology
– Completion of additional residency or fellowship related to subspecialty
– Completion of 5.5-week Commissioned Officer training course
– Be between the ages of 18 and 48

MILITARY BRANCH

Air Force

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty

POSITION LEVEL

Officer

Patient Administration Specialist

DESCRIPTION

Responsible for supervising and performing administrative duties in an Army hospital or other medical facility.

REQUIREMENTS

– 10 weeks of basic training and 7 weeks of advanced training
– Clerical ASVAB score of at least 90

MILITARY BRANCH

Army

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard

POSITION LEVEL

Enlisted

Pharmacy Specialist

DESCRIPTION

Primarily responsible for preparing and dispensing prescribed drugs and medicines, while also maintaining pharmacy supplies and records.

REQUIREMENTS

– 10 weeks of basic combat training and 8 weeks of advanced individual training
– Skilled technical ASVAB score of at least 95

MILITARY BRANCH

Army

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard

POSITION LEVEL

Enlisted

Post-Service Career & Education Opportunities

Physican’s Assistant

DESCRIPTION

PAs work under the supervision of physicians and do much of the same work, including diagnosing ailments and illnesses, treating injuries and saves lives.

REQUIREMENTS

– Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college and before commissioning complete a physician assistant program approved by the ARC-PA
– Be a U.S. citizen
– Be between the ages of 21 and 40

MILITARY BRANCH

Coast Guard

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve

POSITION LEVEL

Officer

Physician

DESCRIPTION

Diagnoses ailments and illnesses, treats injuries and saves lives.

REQUIREMENTS

– Graduate from a medical school accredited by the AMA or AOA
– Complete at least one year of graduate-level medical education
– Have a current state license within one year of entering the Navy
– Be between the ages of 21 and 64

MILITARY BRANCH

Navy

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty, Reserve

POSITION LEVEL

Officer

Women’s Healthcare Nurse Practitioner

DESCRIPTION

Delivers comprehensive medical care to female Airmen and female family members of Airmen from adolescence through child-bearing years and beyond.

REQUIREMENTS

– Master of Science in Nursing
– At least 6 months of full-time experience as an APRN
– At least 12 months of experience as a registered nurse
– Completion of a 5.5-week commissioned officer course
– Be between the ages of 18 and 47

MILITARY BRANCH

Air Force

SERVICE TYPE

Active Duty

POSITION LEVEL

Officer

Military vs. Civilian Medical Careers: Comparing the Benefits

Choosing a medical/healthcare career in the military over one in the civilian sector is a very personal decision. Some do it to serve their country in a way they feel makes a difference, some like the simplicity of being able to focus on their specialty without running a private practice and others do it to help reduce debt acquired during medical school. While military careers offer several benefits different from those in the civilian world, they also come with mandatory commitments such as being deployed to a combat zone or providing humanitarian aid in a third-world country. Below are four common differences between military and civilian healthcare professions.

Military Healthcare Careers

  • Post 9/11 GI Bill
    After serving 90 days, military members begin to accrue education benefits with 100% coverage obtained after serving 3 years. Entitlement can be used to further one’s education or transfer it to a family member.
  • One-month vacation per year
    Unlike many entry-level civilian careers where the individual gets 2 weeks of vacation, military members get 30 days per year right off the bat.
  • Low-cost life insurance
    Members of the military receive up to $400,000 of life insurance for as little as $29 per month through Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI). Unlike many civilian life insurances, this one also covers members deployed in combat zones.
  • Retirement
    Military members are eligible to join the Thrift Saving Plan and invest up to 3% of their basic pay. After serving 2 years, the military automatically matches the member’s contribution. After 20 or more years and upon retirement, members are eligible to receive a monthly retirement benefit or a lump sum payment.

Civilian Healthcare Careers

  • Job security
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates healthcare occupations will grow by 14% from 2018 to 2028, which translates to an increase of 1.9 million jobs.
  • High earning potential
    The opportunity to increase earnings for civilians is based on variables such as location, education, specialized training, or even just being in the right place at the right time. In the military, the salary is primarily based on rank and years of service.
  • Competitive benefits
    Civilian sector careers offer a wide variety of healthcare and other benefits that employees can tailor to their needs. They can also negotiate for more benefits and perks.
  • Location stability
    People in civilian healthcare careers are not required to relocate every three years or so as they are in the military. Plus, most civilian healthcare professionals do not have to leave their practices to deploy for up to a year or more.

Are You Eligible for a Healthcare Career in the Military?

There are special eligibility requirements for joining the military, and they vary by branch. Eligibility factors include age, citizenship, physical aptitude, the ability to pass a background check, prior military service and academic evaluation. Specific military healthcare jobs may have stricter requirements than those listed below.

Age

Army

17* to 34**

Navy

17* to 39**

Marines

17* to 28**

Air Force

17* to 39**

Coast Guard

17* to 31**

*Enlisting at age 17 requires parental consent

**For students studying to become a medical doctor, the age limit can be as high as 47 depending on program attended and branch of military.

Due to force requirement needs, age waivers can be approved in many of the professional career fields, including healthcare and medical.

Citizenship

Generally speaking, military members must be U.S. citizens. Lawful permanent residents holding a green card may enlist, but their job choices may be more limited.

Physical Requirements

All military applicants must pass the military entrance medical exam which includes a physical exam, drug and alcohol testing, muscle group and joint maneuvers, and height and weight measurements. If a candidate is overweight, a body fat test may also be required.

Background Check

Enlistees are required to answer a standard background questionnaire that pertains to any past criminal history or drug use. A follow-up personal interview is provided for the individual to address any questionable background check answers. For positions requiring a government security clearance, passing a more in-depth and detailed investigation is required.

Prior Military Service Considerations

Certain factors may complicate enlisting with prior service, such as needs for that person’s specialty and Reenlistment Code (RE). For example, a person with an Air Force RE code of 2 would not be able to enlist in the Air Force again but could enlist in a different branch. An RE3 code requires a waiver to enlist; an RE4 code makes the individual ineligible to enlist in any branch.

Each military branch has a different definition for what it considers prior service:

Army

180 days

Air Force

24 months

Navy and Marines

180 consecutive days

Coast Guard

Anyone who has served some valid period of creditable service in any of the U.S. Armed Forces, including its Reserve components

Academic Evaluation

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) measures a potential enlistee’s knowledge, skills and interests in a variety of qualification areas including:

  • General  
  • Mechanical
  • Administrative
  • Electrical

These are further broken down into subtests in the following areas:

  • General Science – GS
  • Arithmetic Reasoning – AR
  • Word Knowledge – WK
  • Paragraph Comprehension – PC
  • Mathematics Knowledge – MK
  • Electronics Information – EI
  • Auto/shop Information – AS
  • Mechanical Comprehension – MC
  • Verbal Expression – VE

The Air Force, Navy and Marines use a combination of subsets, while the Army uses line scores. For example, a G score in the Air Force is a combination of the subsets WK+PC+AR, while the Army’s ST score is a combination GS+VE+MK+MC.

To see the impact of these differences, let’s look at two similar enlisted jobs. An Army Combat Medic needs a ST (GS+VE+MK+MC) score of 101 or greater and a GT (VE+AR) of at least 107; a Navy Corpsman, on the other hand, needs at least a 156 total of the subsets VE+MK+GS.

The evaluations used for commission officers is different from the enlisted method. Medical school applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA and an MCAT score no lower than 500. However, to increase the chances of getting approved for school, a GPA of at least 3.5 and MCAT score of 506 or higher is preferable.

Civilian physicians wanting to enlist and practice in the military must:

  • Have an MD or DO degree
  • Have completed at least a year of post-graduate medical education
  • Have a valid license to practice issued by a state, DC, territory or the United States
  • Be board-certified or at least board-eligible

7 Pathways to Medical Careers in the Military

There’s a variety of ways to join the military as a current or aspiring medical professional. Explore these pathways below to see which one could work best for you.

Pathway
#1

Military Medical School

The F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) trains students who want to become physicians and serve in the military branches within the Department of Defense or in the U.S. Public Health Service. Since the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, it gets most of its medical support from the Public Health Service. The Marine Corps gets its medical services from the Navy. Students of the military medical school are on active duty and receive a military salary, housing allowance and other benefits. Students must choose which branch of service to join upon graduation or serve in the Public Health Service.

USU medical school students attend school tuition-free, and they are paid a salary of at least $64,000 while they are in the program. The school runs year-round, which makes the training 700 hours longer than most programs in civilian medical schools. Graduates incur a service obligation of seven years of service in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Public Health Service after graduating.

Pathway
#2

Civilian Medical School with a Military Scholarship

Through the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), the Army, Navy and Air Force offer two-, three- and four-year scholarships that cover medical school tuition, fees, a monthly living stipend and a signing bonus under certain conditions. Scholarship awardees attend civilian medical schools. They are officers in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), but do not wear a uniform and are not eligible for active duty pay in most cases.

Students are required to attend officer training and annual training when school is not in session. Residency can be served in either a military or civilian medical facility depending on the outcome of the matching process which takes place in the third year of medical school. Graduates must join the Army, Air Force or Navy upon completion of medical school.

PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY

  • Meet branch officer commissioning qualifications
  • Be enrolled in an accredited school in the U.S. or Puerto Rico commensurate with the healthcare field choice. As an alternative, a letter of acceptance or list of schools applied to is acceptable
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school
  • Maintain full-time student status
  • Be no older than 36 (except the Navy which is 42) at the time of entering active duty, though waivers can be obtained up to age 47 depending on the service and program

SERVICE REQUIREMENT AFTER GRADUATION

  • 1 year on active duty for each year in the program
  • For all three branches, HPSP service obligations are added to any existing military service obligations.
  • While the HPSP program eligibility, service requirement and status are generally the same, there are some differences between the branches in their program focus and benefits.

Army

PROGRAMS OFFERED

  • Physician/Osteopathy
  • Dental
  • Veterinarian
  • Qualifying Specialty Nurse
  • Counseling/Clinical Psychology
  • Optometry

BENEFITS

  • Full tuition paid up to four years
  • Reimbursement for books, equipment and fees
  • $2,300 monthly living stipend
  • $20,000 signing bonus
  • Officer’s pay during officer training
  • Monthly allowance for food and housing

Navy

PROGRAMS OFFERED

  • Physician
  • Physician Assistant
  • Dental
  • Optometry
  • Clinical Psychology

BENEFITS

  • Paid tuition and fees for up to four years
  • $2,391.60 monthly living stipend
  • $20,000 signing bonus for physician, PA and dental
  • Reimbursement for health insurance if required by the school
  • Books, supplies and equipment required by the program are paid

Air Force

PROGRAMS OFFERED

  • Physician
  • Nurse
  • Dental
  • Pharmacy
  • Optometry
  • Clinical Psychology

BENEFITS

  • Paid tuition and fees for up to four years
  • Monthly living stipend of $2,330.78 while in school.
  • Books, supplies and equipment required by the program are paid
  • $20,000 signing bonus for four-year scholarship recipients

Pathway
#3

Civilian-to-Officer for Licensed Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare professionals in training, new healthcare graduates and experienced professionals can enter the military as commissioned officers either full-time on active duty or part-time in the Reserves or National Guard. 

In the Army and Air Force, healthcare professionals can usually enter military service with a ranking ranging from lieutenant to major, depending on the type and level of their healthcare profession. In the Navy, they can enter with a ranking ranging from ensign to lieutenant commander. Regardless of the branch, the pay grades range between 01 and 04. Depending on where the healthcare professional is in their career and the needs of the military branch, healthcare professionals can enter at a higher grade.

Newly commissioned officers do not attend the standard basic training of their branch. Instead, they go to an officer training course where they participate in physical training and learn military culture and history, how to wear the uniform and how to lead troops.

Officer school training and course length vary according to branch.

Army

BASIC OFFICER LEADERS COURSE (BOLC)

  • 10 to 14 weeks for active duty
  • 2 weeks for Army Reserve and National Guard members

Navy

OFFICER DEVELOPMENT SCHOOL (ODS)

  • 5 weeks for active duty
  • 12 days for Navy Reserve

Air Force

COMMISSIONED OFFICER COURSE (COT)

  • 12 1/2 weeks for active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members

Full-time (Active Duty) Commitment

Licensed military healthcare professionals receive pay, allowances and other benefits congruent with their rank and length of service. Professionals in healthcare specialties can also get an additional special pay on top of their normal monthly pay. Depending on the medical needs of the military branch, they may also receive a signing bonus. In exchange for a service commitment of two years (or one year for each year of repayment, whichever is greater), active duty healthcare professionals can also get up to $40,000 per year in loan repayment.

Full-time (Active Duty) Commitment

Licensed military healthcare professionals receive pay, allowances and other benefits congruent with their rank and length of service. Professionals in healthcare specialties can also get an additional special pay on top of their normal monthly pay. Depending on the medical needs of the military branch, they may also receive a signing bonus. In exchange for a service commitment of two years (or one year for each year of repayment, whichever is greater), active duty healthcare professionals can also get up to $40,000 per year in loan repayment.

During annual training, most military healthcare professionals will serve in a troop medical clinic, military hospital or other medical facility. This service may include setting up and operating a field hospital. Reserve service members can also be mobilized, deployed and serve on humanitarian missions or in combat zones with deployments lasting from a few months to a year or more.

Most reserve commitments are for six years at a time. Besides drill and annual training pay, service members may also qualify for the MGIB-SR GI Bill, federal tuition reimbursement, student loan repayment, education financial assistance offered by their state, or the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program. In most cases, deployment time counts toward Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility.

Example Careers for This Pathway

  • Physicians
    • Aerospace Medicine/Flight Surgeon (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, ANG) 
    • Allergy/Immunology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF)
    • Anesthesiology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Cardiology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • Child Neurology (A, AR)
    • Child Psychiatry (A, AR)
    • Critical Care (AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Dermatology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF)
    • Diagnostic Radiology (A, AR, N, NR, AFR, AFR)
    • Emergency Medicine (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Endocrinology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • Family Medicine (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Fleet Marine Corps Medicine (N, NR)
    • Gastroenterology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • General Surgery (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Genetics (AF)
    • Geriatrics (N, NR)
    • Hematology (A, AR, N, NR)
    • Infectious Disease (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • Internal Medicine (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Interventional Radiology (N, NR)
    • Neonatology (N, NR)
    • Nephrology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • Neurology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF)
    • Neurosurgery (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • Nuclear Medicine (A, AR, N, NR, AF)
    • Obstetrics/ Gynecology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, AFR)
    • Occupational Medicine (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF)
    • Oncology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • Ophthalmology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Orthopedic Surgery (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, ANG)
    • Osteopathic Medicine (N, NR)
    • Otolaryngology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, AFR)
    • Pain Management (N)
    • Pathology (A, AR, N, NR, AF)
    • Pediatrics (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, AFR)
    • Peripheral Vascular Surgery (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Physical Medicine (A, AR, N, NR, AF)
    • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • Preventive Medicine (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, ANG)
    • Psychiatry (A, AR, N, NR, AF, AFR)
    • Pulmonary Medicine (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • Rheumatology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • Sports Medicine (N, NR)
    • Surface Medicine (N, NR)
    • Therapeutic Radiology (A, AR, N, NR, AF)
    • Thoracic Surgery (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • Transfusion Medicine (N, NR)
    • Tropical Medicine (AF, NR)
    • Undersea/Diving Medicine (N, NR)
    • Urology (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF, AFR)
  • Physician Assistant
    • (A, AR, ARNG, AF, AFR, ANG, N, NR)
  • Nursing
    • Army Public Health Nurse (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Certified Nurse Midwife (A, ARNG, N, NR, AF)
    • Critical Care Nurse (A, AR, ARNG, AF, AFR)
    • Emergency Room Nurse (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Family Nurse Practitioner (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF)
    • Medical-Surgical Nurse (A, AR, ARNG, AF, AFR)
    • Nurse Anesthetist (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR, AF)
    • OB/GYN Nurse (A, ARNG, AF)
    • Perioperative Nurse (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (A, ARNG, AF)
    • Psychiatric /Behavioral Health Nurse (A, AR, ARNG, AF, AFR)
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist (N, NR, AF)
    • Pediatric Nurse (AF)
    • Flight Nurse (AF, AFR)
    • Neonatal Intensive Care (AF)
    • Women’s Healthcare Nurse Practitioner (AF)
    • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (AFR)
  • Dental
    • Dentist (A, AR, ARNG, AF, AFR, N, NR)
    • Endodontist (A, AR, ARNG, AF, AFR, N, NR)
    • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (A, AR, ARNG, AF, AFR, N, NR)
    • Orthodontist (A, AR, ARNG, AF, AFR, N, NR)
    • Oral Pathologist (A, AR, ARNG, AF)
    • Pediatric Dentist (A, AR, ARNG, AF, N, NR)
    • Periodontist (A, AR, ARNG, AF, N, NR)
    • Prosthodontist (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • Public Health Dentist (A, AR, ARNG, N, NR)
    • Operative Dentistry (N, NR)
    • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology (N, NR)
    • Oral Facial Pain Clinic (N, NR)
    • Research (N, NR)
  • Veterinarian
    • Field Veterinary (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Veterinary Clinical (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Veterinary Laboratory Animal (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Veterinary Pathology (A, AR, ARNG)
  • Pharmacist
    • (A, AR, ARNG, AF, AFR, N, NR)

Legend

  • A – Army
  • AR – Army Reserve
  • ARNG – Army National Guard
  • N – Navy
  • NR – Navy Reserve
  • AF – Air Force
  • AFR – Air Force Reserve
  • ANG – Air National Guard

Pathway
#4

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)

ROTC for undergraduate medical students is no different from what it is for students in other majors. Students receive full tuition assistance in the form of a scholarship and a monthly stipend of $100 to $150 in exchange for a service commitment to serve as a commissioned officer after graduation. The difference for medical students happens after ROTC graduation. Non-med students begin serving their service commitment right away, whereas medical students don’t start serving until after they finish med school.

ROTC Scholarships

The ROTC offers two-, three-and four-year tuition scholarships. The primary scholarship is for four years, and the service commitment varies by branch. For example:

Army

8-year commitment in the Army, Army Reserve, Army National Guard or a combination thereof; 4 years serving and four years in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)

Navy

4 to 5 years on active duty

Air Force

4 to 6 years on active duty

Pathway
#5

Part-time Options for Medical Students and Residents

Medical students or those in residency can join the Army, Navy or Air Force Reserves or the National Guard. Like most servicemembers in the reserve components, med students and residents are expected to attend drill two days a month and attend two weeks of annual training. Unlike other reserve members, med students and residents are exempt from deployment while in school and can balance drills and annual training with their medical school requirements by using an authorized flexible training program.

Medical students serving in the reserves have some financial assistance programs available to them beside drill and annual training pay. In most programs, except the HPLRP, one year of service obligation in the reserves is required for each six-months of stipend money accepted.

Medical and Dental Student Stipend Program (MDSSP)

Students receive over $2,000 in monthly stipend money.

Specialized Training Assistance Program (STRAP)

Medical students already accepted into an accredited residency program can earn a stipend of over $2,000 per month.

Training in Medical Specialties (TMS)

Navy Reserve medical residents can receive a monthly stipend of over $2,000.

Health Professional Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP)

Medical students with certain types of student loans can get up to $40,000 of their loans paid under this program. The actual amount paid depends on the length of service after the loan was taken out.

Financial Assistance Program (FAP)

This program is for medical residents and includes an annual grant of $45,000, a monthly stipend, reimbursement for books, supplies and equipment and payment for tuition not otherwise covered.

Pathway
#6

On-the-Job Training for Enlisted Healthcare Careers

Not all military healthcare positions are officer related. There are many different entry-level health career opportunities for enlisted personnel either on active duty or in the reserves, none of which require previous healthcare training. Enlistments are usually for six years and require attending not only the basic training program, but also an individualized qualification training course congruent with the position occupied. The length of individualized training varies. For example, Army enlisted healthcare careers can be as short as six weeks for a medical logistics specialist to as long as 52 weeks for a medical laboratory specialist.

This training may count for lower or upper division credits if you want to pursue a college degree either while serving or after getting out of the military. Credits can be requested through the Joint Service Transcript (JST) service. When the minimum training required for the position is complete, other training continues through drill attendance and at annual training. Enlisted members can also expect more training opportunities during their enlistment period.

Example Careers for This Pathway

  • Army
    • Animal Care Specialist (A, AR, ARNG) 
    • Behavioral Health Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Biomedical Equipment Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Cardiovascular Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Combat Medic Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Dental Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Eye Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Medical Laboratory Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Mortuary Affairs Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Nutrition Care Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Occupational Therapy Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Operating Room Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Optical Laboratory Specialist (A, AR, ARNG
    • Orthopedic Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Patient Administration Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Pharmacy Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Physical Therapy Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Practical Nursing Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Preventative Medicine Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Radiology Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Respiratory Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
    • Veterinary Food Inspection Specialist (A, AR, ARNG)
  • Air Force
    • Diagnostic Imaging (AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Health Services Management (AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Histopathology (AF, ANG)
    • Pharmacy Technician (AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Aerospace Medical Service (AFR, ANG)
    • Biomedical Equipment (AFR, ANG)
    • Dental Assistance (AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Dental Laboratory (AF, ANG)
    • Medical Material (AF, ANG)
    • Mental Health Service (AF, ANG)
    • Public Health (AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Surgical Service (AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Diet Therapy (AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Medical Laboratory (AF, ANG)
    • Bioenvironmental Engineering (AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Cardiopulmonary Laboratory (AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Physical Medicine (AF, AFR, ANG)
    • Optometry (AF, AFR)
    • Ophthalmic (ANG)
    • Aerospace and Operational Physiology (AF, ANG)
  • Navy
    • Hospital Corpsman (N, NR)
    • Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman (N)
    • Search and Rescue Medical Corpsman (N)
    • Medical Deep-Sea Diving Technician (N)

Legend

  • A – Army
  • AR – Army Reserve
  • ARNG – Army National Guard
  • N – Navy
  • NR – Navy Reserve
  • AF – Air Force
  • AFR – Air Force Reserve
  • ANG – Air National Guard

Pathway
#7

Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Over 6,500 Commissioned Corps officers work on the front lines of the Public Health Service. Eleven career areas are included within several specialties. CC officers normally serve within various federal agencies such as the National Institute of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their duties may include combatting disease, conducting research or caring for patients in underserved communities and low-income inner cities.

Medical students interested in joining the Commissioned Corps can try it out through three different paths:

  • JRCOSTEP
  • SRCOSTEP
  • IHS Loan Repayment Program

Junior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program — JRCOSTEP

Students in this program work assignments lasting from 31 to 120 days during their college breaks at various locations in the U.S. and with various federal agencies. They receive the pay and allowances equivalent to an ensign O-1 while on assignment.

Senior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program — SRCOSTEP

Medical students in their final year of professional schooling can join this program. Students accepted also receive pay and allowances equivalent to an ensign O-1 for their last 12 months of school. In return, they are obligated to work for the Commissioned Corps for 24 months after graduating.

Indian Health Service (IHS) Loan Repayment Program

This is another paid opportunity, but for graduating medical students. Once graduated, medical professionals can get up to $20,000 per year in loans paid off, but must agree to a two-year service obligation with the Commissioned Corps. This obligation is served in health facilities serving the American Indian and Alaska Native communities. With any of these programs, not only is there a monetary award, but it is a way to get some real in-the-trenches medical experience and training, and a foot in the door at the Commissioned Corps, which can lead to a full-time career.  

Commissioned Corps Officer Professions

  • Physicians
  • Dentists
  • Clinical and Rehabilitation Specialists
  • Dieticians
  • Environmental Health
  • Health Services
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Science and Research Health
  • Veterinarian