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Navy Surgeon General Welcomes Future Physicians to Community

Posted on: February 03, 2014 09:00 EST by Naval Academy Public Affairs

The Navy surgeon general visited the Naval Academy Feb. 3 to participate in a dinner and reception for the 12 Midshipmen selected to commission into the Navy Medical Corps.

Vice Adm. Matthew Nathan addressed the Midshipmen to offer insight into the challenges ahead of them as they graduate from the Academy and begin medical training. 

"The biggest challenge for these new officers will be completing four years of medical school followed by post-graduate training in a residency program. They will be challenged in their studies more than they ever have been before as they work to learn an incredible amount of complex knowledge in a short period of time," said Nathan. "These Midshipmen have been selected for the program because they have shown the desire and the aptitude to be successful.

"Even just spending a few moments with these young Midshipmen shows me that the Navy is in good hands," he added.

The application process for Midshipmen starts early in their academic career. They participate in summer training that will expose them to the Navy medical field and, in addition to their studies, take on volunteer clinical experience as well. 

"Additionally, these students must also take a full year of organic chemistry with laboratory as well as a full year of college biology," said Daniel Isaac, assistance professor in the Chemistry Department. 

Midshipmen must also take the Medical College Admissions Test. Their scores are submitted along with their premedical and predental applications during their second-class year to a committee chaired by chemistry professor Chris Kinter.

The committee consists of the associate dean for academic affairs, a senior representative of the Commandant's staff, a Navy physician or dentist from the Brigade medical staff and a faculty representative from the Chemistry Department, who review the applications and conduct interviews on promising candidates.

Candidates must also apply to medical school by the summer leading into their senior year. They can attend the Uniform School University of Health Sciences or any civilian medical school they choose under the Armed Forces Health Profession Scholarship Program.

"The Midshipmen selected for the Navy Medical Corps have put a great deal of time and effort into their applications," said Nathan. "To get to where these Midshipmen are today, in addition to the other demands of a student at the Naval Academy, deserves special recognition."

The dinner and reception celebrate the achievement of the Midshipmen in reaching their goal to train in a unique Navy career path.

"As Navy doctors, we have the privilege of having an exceptional patient population," said Midshipman 1st Class Jennifer Underhill, of Atlanta, Ga. "Even though we typically won't be in the fight, we are responsible for the well-being of the sailors and Marines who are on the front lines. We become a support system for servicemembers and their families, and that contributes to the fight as much as anything else."

Choosing to be part of the Navy Medical Corps is an extension of the Midshipmen's desire to serve their country, said Isaac. 

"Students choosing medicine are choosing a profession. Regardless of their short and long-term futures, they will be physicians," said Isaac. "Moreover, when they make this choice they are committing to a greater length of service than any other community they could choose. This choice effectively ensures that they will spend at least the next two decades of their lives in Navy medicine."

"Even before coming to the Naval Academy, I had always felt a special calling toward practicing medicine," said Midshipman 1st Class Sarah Fogleman, of Kingston, R.I. "I can't think of a career more rewarding than military medicine - serving those who serve."
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