What to Expect as a Navy Hospital Corpsman
Hospital Corpsmen (HM) assist health care professionals in providing medical care to Navy personnel and their families. They may function as clinical or specialty technicians, medical administrative personnel and healthcare providers at medical treatment facilities. Specifically, Hospital Corpsmen may be called upon to:
- Perform emergency medical treatment on SEALs, Seabees, Marines and other military personnel injured in the field, as well as on Sailors aboard ships or aircraft
- Perform emergency dental treatment as well as construct dental crowns and bridges, process dental X-rays and operate X-ray equipment
- Serve as an operating room technician for general and specialized surgery
- Help administer a wide range of preventive care and medications, including immunizations and intravenous fluids
- Conduct physical examinations and assisting in the treatment of diseases and injuries
- Supervise sanitation and safety conditions in the workplace
- Maintain patient treatment records, conduct research and perform clinical tests
- Assist Navy Physicians and Nurses in a variety of medical fields, including, but not limited to: radiology, physical therapy, phlebotomy, dental, surgery, family medicine, pathology, women’s health and more
As a Hospital Corpsman, you have the most diverse range of work environments available in the Navy. Your job will likely take you all over the world—and far out of your comfort zone. As a Hospital Corpsman, you could be assigned to a Navy medical treatment facility, like an on-base hospital or clinic. You could also work on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean or a submarine in the depths of the sea. Wherever you’re assigned, you’ll work alongside other medical professionals to be trained as a skilled first responder, whether your skills are needed bedside or in the field.
Training & Advancement
Upon completion of initial training at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes (known as Boot Camp), you’ll report for specialized training including:
Hospital Corps “A” School (19 weeks) in San Antonio, Texas for training on basic principles and techniques of patient care and first aid procedures.
Field Medical Service School at Camp Lejeune, NC, or Pendleton, CA for specialized training on medical services relating to Seabees and Marine Corps units if you apply and assignments are available.
After you complete your training, you’ll be assigned to a Navy medical treatment facility or an operational Navy or Fleet Marine Force unit. HMs may also go on to receive assignments to ships, submarines or overseas posts.
Promotion opportunities are regularly available but competitive and based on performance.
Advanced technical training, or “C” school, is optional and available to those who qualify after “A” School training is completed. HMs may enroll in advanced training for over 20 different credentials and specializations including:
- Aerospace Physiology & Medical Technician – Assist in the treatment of naval aviators and flight personnel.
- Behavioral Health Technician – Assist psychiatrists and psychologists in providing mental health care for service members and their families.
- Biomedical Equipment Technician – Assemble, maintain, troubleshoot and calibrate medical equipment.
- Cardiovascular Technician – Assist in performing diagnostic and interventional cardiac procedures.
- Deep Sea Diving Independent Duty Corpsman – Serve as a Medical Department Representative (MDR) for diving units.
- Dental Hygienist – Provide dental hygiene services such as cleaning equipment, polishing restorations, applying sealants and other tasks under the supervision of a dental officer.
- Dental Laboratory Technician – Perform basic and intermediate prosthetic laboratory procedures such as repairing prostheses or completing dentures.
- Dental Maxillofacial Technician – Assists a maxillofacial prosthodontist in oral/craniofacial prosthetic procedures.
- Dental Technician – Assist with dental duties including preventive dentistry and x-rays.
- Electroneurodiagnostic Technician – Assist Neurologists in performing studies to identify patients with neurological disorders.
- Field Medical Service Technician – Provide medical services to Sailors and Marines in field units worldwide.
- Fleet Marine Force Reconnaissance Corpsman – Provides emergency medical services for Fleet Marine Force Reconnaissance personnel engaged in direct action and reconnaissance operations.
- Fleet Marine Force Reconnaissance Independent Duty Corpsman – Provides medical services for Fleet Marine Forces and Special Operations Forces engaged in direct action, special reconnaissance and unconventional warfare.
- Hemodialysis/Apheresis Technician – Care for patients receiving hemodialysis treatments and related procedures.
- Histopathology Technician – Assist pathologists with examination of tissue for disease.
- Medical Deep Sea Diving Technician – Assist in the prevention and treatment of illnesses associated with deep sea diving and high-pressure conditions.
- Medical Laboratory Technician – Perform and supervise the performance of manual and automated advanced laboratory procedures.
- Nuclear Medicine Technician – Operate and maintain equipment that traces the presence and movement of radioactive isotope in a patient's body.
- Occupational Therapy Assistant – Help Occupational Therapists administer treatment plans for acute and chronic rehabilitation.
- Optician – Produce single vision and multifocal spectacles from prescriptions, and help Optometrists in the treatment of patients with ocular disorders.
- Orthopedic Cast Room Technician – Assist in the application and removal of casts and traction, and assist in minor operative procedures.
- Pharmacy Technician – Dispense prescribed medicines and pharmaceuticals.
- Physical Therapy Technician – Assist physical therapists in administering physical therapy for patients.
- Preventive Medicine Technician – Assist with preventive medicine and occupational health programs such as health and safety inspections and epidemiological investigations.
- Radiation Health Technician – Monitors and analyzes radiation exposure, and administers the personnel dosimetry program.
- Respiratory Therapist – Helps treat patients using nebulization therapy, mechanical ventilation, and similar treatments.
- Search and Rescue Medical Corps – Performs aircrew and emergency medical care functions in support of Search and Rescue, MEDEVAC and CASEVAC missions for Navy and Marine Corps Aviation.
- Submarine Force Independent Duty Corpsman – Submarine Force Independent Duty Corpsmen serve as the Medical Department Representative (MDR) and performs basic patient care aboard submarines and at isolated duty stations.
- Surface Force Independent Duty Corpsman – Surface Force Independent Duty Corpsmen serve as the Medical Department Representative (MDR) and perform basic patient care aboard surface ships, with Fleet Marine Force Units and at isolated duty stations.
- Surgical Technologist – Assists the medical officer in carrying out surgical techniques and providing pre- and post-surgical care to patients.
- Urology Technician – Assists medical officer in examination and treatment of urological patients, including operations and X ray procedures.
- Advanced X-Ray Technician – Operates medical X ray, ultrasound and CAT scan equipment.
There’s no better way to begin a successful career in health care than by serving as a medic in the medical support division of America’s Navy. Specialized training received and work experience gained in the course of service can lead to valuable credentialing and occupational opportunities in related fields in the civilian world, such as Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Home Health Aide, Anesthesiologist Assistant and more.
Beyond offering access to professional credentials and certifications, Navy technical and operational training in the medical field can translate to credit hours toward a bachelor’s or associate degree through the American Council on Education.
You may also continue your education through undergraduate degree opportunities like the Navy College Program and Tuition Assistance and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Qualifications & Requirements
A high-school diploma or equivalent is required to become an Enlisted Sailor and a Hospital Corpsman. Those seeking a position as a Hospital Corpsman must be U.S. citizens.
A sincere interest in health care and science is extremely important for this role. You should have good communication, writing and arithmetic skills, be competent with tools and equipment. Important personal traits for this role include the ability to work well with others as part of a team, as well as dependability, trustworthiness and resourcefulness.
In addition to good physical stamina, Hospital Corpsmen should also have normal color perception, vision correctable to 20/20, and good use of your hands. You must meet eligibility requirements for a security clearance. Please note that any illegal involvement with drugs may be disqualifying.
Serving part-time as a Navy Reserve Sailor, your duties will be carried out during your scheduled drilling and training periods. During monthly drilling, Hospital Corpsmen in the Navy Reserve typically work at a location close to their homes.
For annual training, you may serve anywhere in the world, including locations in the U.S., at bases overseas, or in areas where humanitarian needs are great.
Take a moment to learn more about the general roles and responsibilities of Navy Reserve Sailors.
Most of what you do in the Navy Reserve is considered training. The basic Navy Reserve commitment involves training a minimum of one weekend a month (referred to as drilling) and two weeks a year (referred to as Annual Training) – or the equivalent of that.
Hospital Corpsmen in the Navy Reserve serve in an Enlisted role. Before receiving the ongoing professional training that comes with the job, initial training requirements must be met.
For current or former military Enlisted servicemembers, prior experience satisfies the initial Recruit Training requirement, so you will not need to go through Boot Camp again.
For those without prior military experience, you will need to meet the initial Recruit Training requirement by attending Boot Camp in Great Lakes, IL. This training course will prepare you for service in the Navy Reserve and count as your first Annual Training.